You Always End Up in the City.

After my week in the hospital I can conclude that looking out windows at the sunshine is not nearly the same as feeling it on your skin. Not at all. I could almost feel the vitamin D seep out of my body.

On Saturday, to celebrate FREEDOM!!! my boyfriend and I hopped a train to NYC. (The great thing about this part of Pennsylvania is that so many towns and cities are just a short drive away. Spontaneous road trips are so easy.)

As we got closer, I felt like we were traveling to Mecca, as our first stop was… the CB2 NY store. The CB2 catalogues are lustworthy for any urbanite looking for affordable modern pieces (think the beauty of the Anthropologie catalogues but for sleek furniture). I learned how to render (fancy word for “color”) my interior design projects by using the textures and colors of their stuff as inspiration. I’m pretty sure walking in was less walking and more, I don’t know, skipping?

Inside, I died of joy four thousand times and sat on every single chair/sofa, touched every bowl/comforter, and nearly hugged the sales team. My boyfriend took multiple photos of the event – nay, Event! with a capital E – but they all came out blurry and weird, like when people claim to capture angels on film and it’s a distortion that doesn’t come close to the real thing. Anyway, mmmm sofas.

We ate lunch at Red Bamboo, and I found it oddly refreshing that the prices were completely moderate (dare I say, cheap?) and we were so full halfway through our entrees that we didn’t even get food the rest of the day, despite walking miles and miles all over the city.

Ryan got the Red Bamboo club sandwich, a glorious combination of a thick slice of marinated tofu, the best seitan bacon ever, and some tasty condiments.

I got the filet of “fish” sandwich. Three words: vegan tartar sauce. Sometimes a simple condiment gives me a memory or throwback to a meal I enjoyed when I still ate meat. (Also, why have I never made this? Veganaise and relish for crying out loud! So easy!) The lemon on the “fish” was a little overpowering, but the melty vegan cheese and sheer novelty of tasting flavors I haven’t had in a while was FUN. Eating is fun, isn’t it?

But... but but but. The appetizer was what really did me in. I nearly had my own version of the famous Meg Ryan orgasm-in-the-deli scene, except not faking it. Behold… Vegan Coconut Almond Chicken.

I have attempted to write about it’s glorious flavors, the crispy panko texture, the way the succulent faux-chicken breaks apart in your mouth.. but there are no words. Just behold it’s beauty. And promise yourself you’ll order this if you ever find yourself in NYC. Then save some for me.

The rest of the day included free jazz in Prospect Park, trying (and failing) to gain the right footing when I had to stand on the subway, and marveling at all the cool stuff in boxes marked FREE outside of apartments. Also, we went to a bar in which EVERY SINGLE GUY – I am not exaggerating – had a moustache.

And in New York, every single girl has these sandals.

It’s good to be living life again. I feel like I have a second chance. Maybe at this point a fourth, fifth. I want to continue to spend it learning constantly, letting optimism drive me, leaving the past neatly tucked away and actively making my life every day moving forward.

Guess what? You can do the same thing. And you don’t even have to go to New York.

Advertisements

Coffee Lust – Good or Bad?

The day after my computer broke, my hand-eye coordination also broke and I chopped off the end of my thumb while making lunch. I’ll spare you the gory details (keyword: gory) and just let you know that it’s healing well! Thanks for the concern.

(For added fun, be sure to ask where I found the chopped-off part once I got home from the hospital! OR DON’T.)

Life is full of contradictions. Something that comes up in my research and general reading all the time is the subject of coffee. Not the fair trade VS free trade, shade grown or not, etc… stuff – though there is a lot to be said for all of that, too. But rather, an admission:

I’m still not sure if coffee is good for bad for you.

Talk to anyone and they are bound to have some information, or at the very least, an opinion one way or the other. I’ll tell you that I like coffee a lot and drink it almost every day, not because I “need my coffee or I just can’t function” – but for the ritual of it, the flavor, and the occasional caffeine jolt. That’s not to say that sometimes coffee hasn’t made me feel absolutely lousy, too, leaving me dehydrated or jittery when having consumed too much.

In my attempt to be unbaised, I present some of the most common arguments for/against coffee consumption:

Why Some Say Coffee is Bad for Health: Caffeine is a mild addictive stimulant. Coffee can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Can irritate the stomach and bowels. Caffeine crash. Some research shows that coffee can slow calcium absorption.

More Fun: Why Many Believe Coffee Has Health Benefits: Some studies show drinking coffee could reduce the risk of Parkinson’s, Type 2 Diabetes, colon cancer, asthma, and Alzheimer’s, to name a few. Full of antioxidants. Anti-aging benefits.

If you do the research, you’ll find many reputable health facilities and doctors claiming that the benefits of coffee far outweigh the cons. But remember – everything in moderation. One or two cups of coffee may be okay, but having seven will not be better (and my stomach hurts at the thought of it!).

It’s important to remember that the coffee I’m talking about here is NOT a caramel latte or loaded with cream and sugar. If you must use a sweetener, choose something natural (like agave or stevia) and use in moderation.

Check out this cute blog, The Coffee Bump, for little facts and features about coffee, including articles about how coffee supports health!

Pink Dress and Pretty Cake: VEGAN WEDDING special!

Every Monday for the past few weeks, Facebook has seen a barrage of wedding photos from the weekend. It’s been very adorable to see so many dear friends celebrating their Wedding Days in unique and personal ways. (And, I admit through gritted teeth, it makes me want to start to plan my own huge celebration party!)

This brings me to Kate. Kate is a Save the Kales! reader and recently married her super cute now-husband, Aaron (who have both started a non-profit called the Animal Awareness Project – read on to learn more!) The photos of this beautiful couple prompted me to ask Kate more about their wedding, only to learn so much useful and inspiring information about not just wedding planning, but incorporating your values into all you do.

Read on to see the interview with Kate about the occasional stresses but mostly joys of throwing an all-vegan wedding.

Did you ever consider having a wedding that wasn’t vegan? A lot of people may feel that they are putting their guests out by doing this. How did you overcome that feeling, or did you ever have it?

We knew from the moment we got engaged that we would have a vegan wedding no matter what. We did not for one second want to compromise our ethics or beliefs and we saw it as a great way to show our family and friends how amazing vegan food is, and how easy it is to do. My dad was worried at first that some people would not like the food and he constantly tried to convince us to have one meat dish. But we did not compromise, and all the guests were really impressed with the food.


Did you face obstacles planning your vegan wedding? Was it difficult to find businesses that supported your ethics? Can you offer readers any tips?

We really lucked out with planning. We held our event at a Green Wedding facility called the Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills, Maryland. They encouraged us to do a vegan wedding because that would make for the “greenest” wedding they had ever had there. Basically I would recommend that people search the internet like we did, and go meet with and sample the possible food options. We were really impressed by everyone who played a part.

Tell me more about the reception and the Irvine Nature Center.

It was easy to have the ceremony and reception in one place and it was so beautiful there. We wanted a place that was outdoors and brought us and our guests in close contact with the natural world. We were able to have a ceremony in the woods over-looking a beautiful valley, hear birds, have a bonfire, and be surrounded by flowers and trees. It was a beautiful place and when we first visited we felt it was magical.

Okay, the food. Let’s talk about the food. Where did it come from, and what did you serve? Who made the wedding cake?

The food, oh the food. It was amazing. We went with a catering company who offers many vegan and even raw vegan options. Zia’s Cafe/Catering of Towson Maryland. They were amazing! Some of the yummy items were: Raw Spring rolls with peanut ginger sauce, raw vegan pizza, raw vegan pineapple and cucumber shooters, vegan Portobello and polenta Napoleons made with Daiya vegan cheese, asian ginger string beans, vegan butternut squash lasagna with vegan bechamel sauce, drunken strawberries, spinach risotto, herbed dinner rolls, tempeh chick’un skewars with peanut sauce and balsamic lentil and beet salad.


We had so many non vegans saying how much they loved the food and how impressed they were. It was so yummy. We did some food items at our cocktail hour, and the rest was done buffet style.

The wedding cake was made by an All Vegan bakery based in Baltimore city called Brunie’s Bakery. Tamara, the owner and baker made us an amazing cake called “Spring Time Divine”. It was layers of yellow cake with lemon and raspberry curd. She also made us a separate sheet cake that was a vegan red velvet cake.

There was no cake left at the end of the night. It was so good, that the non vegans kept asking how she did it. 🙂

What other vegan or eco-friendly components went into the wedding? (Did you have invitations on recycled paper, did you ask guests to contribute to a nonprofit, etc..)
As a favor for our guests we gave little thank you jars with vegan mints inside. We also sent out a limited amount of paper invites which we made ourselves on recycled paper. The rest of the announcements we did through the internet to save paper.
In Lieu of presents we asked our guests to make a donation to our non profit; The Animal Awareness Project, Inc. Any disposable cups and forks that were used by Zia’s were all compostable.

You’re amazing. Tell us about the Animal Awareness Project.

The Animal Awareness Project, Inc is an Animal Rights organization we started last summer 2009 and we are based in Ellicott City, Maryland. We are striving to become the first Vegan/ Animal Rights AD company in Baltimore City and around Maryland.

Other cities use advertising as way to spread the compassionate message and Baltimore has yet to embrace that method. We are now working with AD companies to start doing Bus ADs, Billboard ADs, Radio AD’s and more. We also do humane education in the school systems. We go into schools in Baltimore and around Maryland to inform students about the reality of where their food comes from and how animals are treated.

We do tons of vegan outreach as well. We go to colleges, concerts and local events to leaflet vegan material to the masses! We hold vegan feed ins on college campuses and at festivals and events. This summer we are joining other AR groups to leaflet the Warp Tour, and we will be tabling at the TAFA conference. We are starting to do lots of fundraising and benefits to grow vegan ADs in Baltimore and beyond.

How did some of your non-vegan guests react to a vegan wedding? Did you get feedback?

Everyone was impressed who was a non vegan. We were really happy that people liked the food and the cake so much. It was a great way to show people how amazing and creative vegan food is. All of the feedback was positive!

Can you talk about your personal feelings on the notion of combining personal morals and ethics with “the happiest day of your life”? Could you have imagined it any other way?

We knew that this day was about us and our love and our new journey together and we wanted every minute of it to stay true to who we are and our beliefs. Even though we were somewhat pressured at first by family to not go with an all vegan wedding, we did and we are so glad we followed our hearts and stayed true to ourselves. We would have not done it any other way!

What final advice can you give to folks looking to plan their own wedding?
Always stay true to yourselves and make sure you are both equally involved in the planning and that you keep it fun. Do not stress about things and on your actual day stay as present and in the moment as possible because it all happens so fast.

(Kate on her honeymoon in Hawaii… surely dreaming about that beautiful cake.)

To learn more about Kate and Aaron’s non-profit, the Animal Awareness Project, please click here.

While it’s so beautiful to learn about a celebration like this and discovering there are ways to make it your own, remember: you don’t need a huge event to make choices every day that can do good and make you feel good. Every moment is a chance to live our lives with passion and purpose.

Turn That Frown Upside Down – Party Time

Friends and Readers (one in the same),

I am equally overwhelmed and humbled by your support and absolutely beautiful, candid responses to what was a very negative situation. Sometimes I forget that not everyone reacts to adversity with calm and understanding, and the events at the beginning of the week were difficult to comprehend. I don’t have much of a backbone, though I think if it can be said any good has come from this, it is that my backbone is strengthened and (don’t mind if I say) I’m even proud of myself for staying true to my morals of respect and open-mindedness.

There was a 48 hour period when I had contemplated shutting down the whole thing, feeling deeply disheartened that my attempt at doing something so good – and doing it with humility and vulnerability along the way – had been subject to so much harsh criticism.

BUT… I soon learned that anybody that’s ever done ANYTHING has faced opposition, critics and sometimes just plain mean ridicule. I tried to see the situation as what can be considered, perhaps, complimentary that my message is reaching enough people that’s even worthy of such a reaction. (They always say, the day you become a sketch on Saturday Night Live, you know you’ve “made it”.)

The mission of this blog – beyond cooking, beyond screenprints of corn and eggplants, past the rambling videos – is to put forth a message of living your truth, and doing it with compassion. It’s so easy for something like this to turn us hard, bitter, to make us want to quit. In the end, it’s simply not worth it. “You just can’t please everybody.” But it fills my heart to know I have pleased and even inspired so many of you.

“Thank you” is merely eight letters and cannot begin to convey how much your kindness has meant to me, but thank you. Thank you, thank you. Times a million.

And to help close the case in the most celebratory way…

THIS SUNDAY is the Save the Kales/Remember PICNIC IN THE PARK!

Here are full event details as per Andrew’s Blog, Remember:

“I have rented pavilion number three at Cedar Beach Parkway for this event. THIS IS A LINK FOR DIRECTIONS FROM ROUTE 22 TO THE PAVILION.

Now, the main event will be a Cook Off which I announced on here yesterday evening. Entries will be accepted from 2 until 2:45 with judging beginning at 3. After the winner is crowned, everyone eats!

Around 4:45, Jaime and I (more to come) will be giving short talks about sustainable eating and sustainable parks with a question and answer session.

Following that, local musician Joe Tkach will be playing an acoustic set.

And then, straight relaxing until the sun sets!

Bring Frisbees!, Bring Friends!, Bring Family!, Bring Dogs!

Most Importantly, Bring yourself!


Leave a comment or send me an email (andrewkleiner@gmail.com) if you want to bring food for the contest or help out in anyway.  There will be a lot needing to get done over the next week as the event approaches.

Jaime and I are really excited about this and this is promising to be the exact kind of day you will be remembering down the line.   We hope to see you there!”

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS ON THE COOKOFF!

To sum up:

  • FREE event! Family and pet friendly
  • Save the Kales! is providing several vegan dishes for tasty noshing
  • Sign up for the COOK OFF, or simply bring a dish for everyone to share
  • 3:00 judging of cook off entries
  • EAT, HANG OUT, LAUGH, PET DOGS
  • 4:45, Talks about sustainable eating/Local environmental efforts by me and Andrew
  • An acoustic set by the super-duper talented, Joe Tkach

We’ll say the unoffical “start” of the picnic is 2pm. We have the pavillion til dusk. You are welcome to come and go as you please – in the end, this is an excuse to get together with great people and spend a day outdoors. (We also like nature and eating, so we’re working those in too, of course.)

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, just ask me here or: savethekales@gmail.com

I’ll see you there and we will hug and high-five each other!

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Cooking Class

The cooking class was a huge success! It took some extra planning since I didn’t have access to a full kitchen, but what a fun challenge to take on! I balanced in my yellow heels and vintage apron and we cooked up 5 meals and 1 dessert.  Everyone left full and happy, and I left feeling accomplished and proud of myself.

When I started Save the Kales! a few months ago, it was more of a personal outlet after a truly difficult time in my life. Without getting into the fine details of that situation, cooking and talking about food became the only thing left that was “mine” alone. I could do it, and I was good at it. I was hoping a few people may read the blog and get a few ingredient ideas, but it has now lead to a complete life reevaluation in the best way, and allowed me to clearly imagine what it would be like to make a living doing something I love.

It’s easy to be afraid of viewing your dreams as tangible goals. For the longest time I didn’t even know what that meant, and felt actual guilt at the thought of asking someone to pay me for a talent. Yet, I never thought it odd to pay a stylist when I got my hair cut, a chef at a restaurant, an artist to make something beautiful for my home. Why is it so hard to believe we  can do something?

Guess what? You can. Really. It’s as simple as that.

Being in a place where you have nothing left to lose is a vulnerable, uncomfortable place. But after the frightening part subsides, you find it opens to you all possibilities – and the most humbling part is they have been there all along.

I love cooking, talking about food and nutrition, exposing people to ingredients they may not have otherwise tried. To be able to teach a class my way, my style – informative, colorful, silly – was reinforcement that I’m doing something right. It made me wonder if the hard times we experience, or the hard times we give ourselves are just a way for us to reassess our thoughts and actions to propel us into greatness.

But take my advice – don’t wait around for that moment if you can help it. You are already great and talented, and people will benefit from what you can offer. Just get up and do it.

(To my first class, I thank you with so much sincerity, and as per request I’m already planning the next class built around tofu as the common ingredient. Thanks to Christa Timko and Lisa O’Brien for the photos!)

KITCHEN CONTEST

Part of the moving process involves getting rid of a lot of things – in my case, a LOT. But I know most of it would be useful to other people. So, I thought it may be fun to have a little contest and I’ll send the winners some fantastic prizes!

May I present:

SAVE THE KALES! 1ST EVER “SHOW ME YOUR KITCHEN” CONTEST

The rules are simple! Take some photos of the space you do your cooking. Stories and comments about why something is important to you or helpful are encouraged! (Have a hand-me-down martini shaker with a great story? Found the vintage avocado-green mixer of your dreams?) Let me see your space, your things, or photos of a favorite homemade dish.

I’ll pick a winner (or winners, depending on how many entries I get) and send you a fun package of vegan-themed surprises!
Send contest entries to: savethekales@gmail.com

  • Please send submissions by Wednesday, June 2

And remember, we’re already winners. (Roll your eyes now.)

PICNIC PARTY

There’s only 10 more days until my first ever COOKING DEMO, live and in person!

I’m so excited to be the guest at the UnderWired Boutique Craft Night, where I’ll be teaching everyone how to make several dishes, with a theme built around “picnic food”, great for the summer!

Everyone will be able to take some some of the dishes made as well as take home the recipes. Seating is limited so PLEASE contact the lovely Lisa at Underwired to let her know if you’d like to attend!

Event is FREE! (Donations of $5 greatly appreciated for the cost of food and materials, though not required)

INFO:

  • Wednesday, May 19th
  • Held at Underwired Boutique, 337 Vine St., South Side Bethlehem, PA (right off 4th street)
  • From 6:30pm – 8:00pm
  • Event is FREE!!! (Though small donations appreciated for cost of food)
  • Bring some tupperware to take food home
  • Bring a pen and notebook!

Contact Lisa/Underwired to register HERE via Facebook: I want to come to the Save the Kales! Cooking Demo