Monday, 22 December 2008

Holiday Dinner Wrap Up

It's taken me a bit to get to this post. My camera cable was MIA.

So the dinner went through some last minute changes and ended up being at my tiny apartment. This meant that we had to dis invite some people and buy more glasses and plates. I also cut out a few of the planned dishes since there wouldn't be as many people to eat them.

See I wasn't kidding when I said it was tiny. I only have this tiny coffee table, so some of the dishes had to go on the floor. I also didn't have enough bowls for everything.

This is Bryanna's tenderloin. I also used the rosemary milk marinade she suggests. It took a lot of work. If you plan on making this, make the tenderloin ahead of time and freeze, then the day of will be minimal work.

Here are vegan dad's roasts. These were amazing!

The green been casserole, delicious as always.

My plate! Clockwise from the pumpkin dinner rolls, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes with sage and onion gravy, stuffing, seitan roast, tenderloin with the cranberries above it and the carrots in the middle.

And of course dessert. We had three kinds of dessert. This is the pumpkin brownies, which were awesome! Mine came out more like a chocolate pumpkin cheese cake, I don't know if that's because I used a slightly smaller pan or that's just the way they are, but I'd definitely make them again. We also had fudge, which was good and pumpkin pie. The pie was our friend's first attempt at vegan baking. It was really tasty, he even made his own pumpkin filling. Sorry, I didn't get a good picture of it.

Also, if you have any doubt as to how awesome this meal was, check out an old post where I show you how small my kitchen is. I made all of this with 1 mini oven and a counter top the size of a few books. It took a lot of time management skills on my part. I'll update the previous post crossing out the things I ended up not making.

Happy Holidays everyone! I'm off to the udon capital of Japan, Kagawa in Shikoku for Christmas.


Thursday, 4 December 2008

Our Holiday Dinner

I will once again be hosting a vegan holiday feast (along with my boyfriend since it's at his house). Last year, we had a Thanksgiving party. But this year the date is a little later, so I guess it's more like a Christmas party. Basically, the food is all the same to me and that's what's important. This year we are planning for about 10-15 people for dinner. Most of the guests are Japanese so they are just chipping in 1000 yen and then I'll be making most of the food with some contributions from Sarah and our friend Jason. Jason's not vegan, but is working out a vegan pumpkin pie for the party. I'm really appreciative he took on such a scary one for his first vegan cooking experience. He could have just said mashed potatoes (which he's also bringing) or something, but he didn't and that's cool. Maybe he'll see how easy it can be to make vegan food.

Last year, all the guests were amazed that all of the food was vegan and everyone ate themselves silly. I like doing this dinner because it shows how awesome vegan food can be, but it also shows a little bit about western culture. Most of our guests wouldn't have any other opportunity to eat Christmas dinner.

It's going to be next weekend, just before Sarah leaves to go back to Scotland for the holidays. I'll be stuck here...

So I've finished up the menu. Here it is:

Appetizers (last year people filled up on these too much, so I cut them down)
  • pickles
  • olives
  • chips
  • onion dip (La Dolce Vegan)




  • Seitan Roast (with the stuffing from above, probably)
  • Seitan Tenderloin (from the Vegan Feast Newsletters Holiday 2007)


I can't wait!


Thursday, 27 November 2008

My name is Pamela and I'm a cookbook whore

We still have a bunch of posts waiting to be finished (sorry for the delay). Hopefully, I'll be having some more time at work to finish them.

Anyway, to tie you all over, I thought I'd post picture of my cookbook collection. I've sort of turned into a cookbook whore since becoming vegan and I use any chance to get books sent over here. I used some birthday money awhile back to make a large increase in my collection. It no longer fits on the shelf, which is mostly ok, because I usually have at least one of them out all the time. I don't think hardly a day goes by without me at least flipping through them. I love just looking at them and reading and dreaming.

This is my tiny shelf. A few of them aren't vegan. The Japanese ones (except the one on the far right) are all omni. Recently, cookbooks geared for people with allergies have become popular (like the one Sarah gave me for my birthday), the ones I have are just regular omni ones. One is a macrobiotic book, two are diet cookbooks (which tend to have more veggie options), and one is a book of vegetable side dishes (most of which include meat). I think most of you can read the English ones.

These are the books on top. Most of these are part of the new editions to my collection (thus why they are on top). Glad I finally got Yellow Rose, especially after all the talk. Veganomicon is just too tall for my shelf.All of these zines were part of my new birthday money (I totally spent over what I got).

Show your collections! Let's see how about I add a few survey type questions to this...

1. What are your top three? (You know I couldn't choose just 1.)

My top three would have to be Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan, Vegan with a Vengeance, and Vive Le Vegan.

2. Which one gets the most use?

Probably Vegan with a Vengeance or Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. I think I pick up E, D, and BV everyday, but I don't necessarily make things from it. I just fantasize about it. I always seem to be out of a key ingredient. Vegan with a Vengeance was the first vegan cookbook I bought and I've made a lot and tend to go back to some old favorites. I keep meaning to flip through it again to discover a recipe I've probably forgotten about.

3. Which one do you wish you used more?

I wish I used the zines more, but some of them are hard to use in Japan. Also, they don't have indices and I like to look up an ingredient I want to use or need to use up and then work from there when I'm cooking. Also, Asian Vegan Kitchen. Everything I've made from there has been amazing! Seriously, the tonkatsu is one of my favorite foods. But the book calls for lots of spices and things that are either a little difficult for me to get here or just intimidate me.

4. Is there one you regret buying?

Heart of the Home (middle picture). I bought it on a whim since I was buying other books, but it has honey in it and just a weird layout that annoys me, so I haven't opened it since I first got it. I should try and make myself.

5. What are the most important elements of a good cookbook (besides the recipes)?

I really like a good and well labeled index. I also like the table of contents to include the names of all the recipes. Good photos are also nice. I appreciate cookbooks that have lots of helpful tips and notes too.

6. What cookbook do you have your eyes on next?

Just the Burgers coming soon from Joni Newman. I have her Cozy Inside book and really like that.

Feel free to take on the challenge. Let us know if you do!


Thursday, 20 November 2008

Let's Start the Revolution, Ladies!

We live in the 98th ranked country in terms of the gender gap. Out of 130 countries! Japan is the only country most people would refer to as 'developed' outside of the top 30. While I know women's rights and equality in Japan are bismal at best. I was still sort of shocked by the actual number. Japan's overall score and ranking from 2007 also dropped.

I think between Sarah and I we could surprise lots of our readers about the discrimination that we have either witnessed first hand or have had happen to us.

I was talking to my boyfriend (who is Japanese) about this list and he told me about a still common way for men to propose marriage to women. They say 'Will you please make miso soup for me everyday?' I mean WTF!?!? My boyfriend knows he'd get a straight punch to the face if he ever said that to me. However, I can't even tell you the number of times I've heard 'oh, Ume's so lucky you like to cook, you'll make a great wife'! And I've heard this by people my age and younger. When his sister said that to me, I laughed and she was like 'don't American people say things like that?' I responded, 'yeah, 30 years ago'.

Granted I know the US is still far behind where it should be and is nowhere near perfect, I'm not meaning to imply that. I just want to give you some examples.

About 2 years ago, while at a school function in the gym (of all Japanese people, except 2 of us) we were sitting on the floor. My coworker next to me (the only other non-Japanese person) was sitting with her legs straight out in front of her like several of the male coworkers around us. Our boss came up to her and told her she had to sit holding her knees or with her knees under her (seiza). He said nothing to the other teachers. Then when we go back to the staff room, he announced to the whole staff that the women teacher's have to be careful how they sit and that only those 2 positions are acceptable. My friend was mortified.

At several of the school's I've taught at, all the boys are listed alphabetically first. Then all the girls are listed.

Not to mention the now famous 'maid' cafes where girls dress like maids and refer to the all male clientele as 'master'. I've also recently heard about cafes where the girls where short skirts and the customers are encouraged to look up their skirts!

There are lots of other small examples I could give you like: my coworker who laughed at another coworker when she said her husband makes her lunch, or the girl I know who allowed her breasts to be grabbed by the 'winner' of a game she wasn't even playing, or how pretty much the only jobs women get to do are secretarial, or the blatant and laughed about sexual harassment that goes on in the work place, or dear god the porn industry, goes on and on...

I didn't really have anywhere I wanted to go with this, I just needed to rant. I may be back for more.

Sorry there are a lot of run-on sentences in this that I'm not going to fix.


Tuesday, 4 November 2008


Yesterday, since it was Culture Day, me and Pam both had the day off work. So we decided to hang out, do some shopping and eating and we finally got a new picture for the blog!

Hope you like it!

-- Sarah

Friday, 31 October 2008

Mofo Wrap Up


Today is the last day of the mofo. And now I have about 800 posts in my google reader to catch up on. I'm really glad we joined it. I've found lots of new and interesting blogs. And others have come to ours and hopefully are enjoying it. The month went rather fast and we still have several ideas of things we couldn't get to, so I hope you won't stop reading just because the mofo has ended. We will be blogging more regularly, so stay tuned. Thanks for all the comments and support.


Yeah, I second all of that! I've been feeling the pressure a little bit this month trying to post enough but I think we did a pretty good job and I hope you have enjoyed a little insight into our lives and eating habits in Japan. There are a bunch of posts that I didn't get around to writing up so be on the look out for some info about Japanese sweets, a frying pan apple crumble recipe, and a rhapsody about stew and dumplings :)

Thanks to my fellow blogger Pamela for motivating me to do this, thanks to all the other MOFOers out there for your inspiration, and thanks to everyone who read our posts and everyone who left comments for us. And most of all, thank YOU for being vegan (or at least interested enough in the lifestyle to read our crappy blog). You rock!

P.S. this is dedicated to all of you, haha

-- Sarah


I think we would be commiting some sort of blogging offence if we didn't talk about bentos. There are about a billion resources out there for making fancy bentos.

That's not our picture. I found it here, where you can find many NOT vegan bento pictures. Yikes how long do people spend making these? The meaty ones make me sick, dressing up all the food to look like animals. There could probably be a whole thesis written about the cognitive dissonance involved in bento making.

Anyway, we're here to talk about some bentos we've made and show you some crazy bento gear. There is literally a section in stores devoted to just bento goods.

This is the section at Loft. I couldn't actually fit it all in the shot, but you get the idea.

Look at the assortment of bento boxes! I wish I had such a cool looking one. I have one more for practicality than cuteness. (All the 'cute' ones seem so small, so I always end up buying the dude themed ones. I wish Japanese women weren't always on a dieat and ate a normal sized lunch rather than kid portions.)

The accessories section! I don't even know how to use half this stuff.
Close-up on some accessories. These little things are used to stab food like fruit, so you don't get your hands sticky and they look cute sticking up out of the bento.

Now I'm ashamed to admit, I often make rather boring bentos. Apparently, there are 5 principles to making a good bento. They are: the bento includes the 5 colors, the 5 methods, the 5 flavors, the 5 senses, and gokan no mon (which is a Buddhist state of mindfulness while eating). Wow, this is getting really technical. I just try to use different colors and I guess different flavors.

Really, I think you can put anything in a bento. Don't let all the rules scare you. The bento Nazis won't come after you if you don't dress your tofu up like little bears or put happy faces on your rice. Let me show you some of my rather shameful bentos.

See, I didn't use any cute dividers or plastic pictures. It's just lunch.

Oh yeah, this one's fancy.

Major FAIL! This ones almost all beige. Damn it, I suck...

The main priniciple to bento making is to just make a bunch of different foods, each one featuring one vegetable or two. I'll try to put up a bento's worth of recipes in the next few weeks.

I have one tip for making your bentos. It is a very UN-Japanese tip.

  • Make about 4 or 5 seperate foods. For example, fried mushrooms, broccolli with a tofu mayonaise sauce, freeze dried tofu, tempuraed sweet potatoes, boiled carrots, sliced veggies, etc. Put them all into containers in the fridge and then portion them out into your bento each morning. Japanese housewives the country over are crying over the fact that I don't wake up at 5 each morning to make each dish fresh and with love.

So now that you have learned, just because we live in Japan does not mean we are bento masters...go out there and make your own bentos! It's really not as hard or scary as that Hello Kitty on steriods one is at the top.


Pam's right, you don't have to go crazy and wake up at stupid o'clock to make some elaborate character bento. Some of the nicest looking and tastiest bentos are quite simple. I think successful bento making just requires a little thought and forward planning. I've only recently become interested in bento making (much to the delight of the Japanese staff I work with who like to talk about what a great wife and mother I will be.... urgh) but am still very much in the same camp as Pamela when it comes to preparing things the night before.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the bentos and accessories I own:

Here's a bento I made for work last week. It's not all that exciting but it was tasty! This one contained spicy sauteed slices of eggplants, sundried tomato hummus, a veggie burger, spinach, cherry tomatoes and sliced green and red peppers. And the letters were cut from cucumber slices. I also had a seperate tupperware with slices of cornmeal pancake, raisins and mochi.

And since it is Halloween today and I love The Nightmare Before Christmas, I'll leave you with this picture of a bento (that I did not make and is sadly NOT VEGAN!). Seriously, I don't know how Japanese mothers have time for this!...

-- Sarah

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Veganism is Logical

There's been a post about veganism rolling around in my head. I didn't know if or how to even begin it. And I thought I would have to write some very long essay rambling on and on about vegansim with all kinds of sources and numbers, but really it just hit me the other day. It's totally not necessary. My (our) veganism is simple and logical.

We are abolitionists. Meaning I acknowledge that animals are sentient and entitled to their own livelihood. Therefore, it is immoral to use animals for human needs. Period. Full stop. End of story.

To these ends I do not believe in supporting anything that does not meet these ends, it just doesn't make any sense to me. And would be speciesist to do so.

See it's simple.

That's why I can't support something like California's Prop 2 that is giving legitimacy to the use of animals.

And what welfarists don't undestand when they say abolitionists are divisive, is that we are not even working on the same cause. You will not reach abolition by supporting things that are not abolitionist. We all need to be out there promoting veganism in whatever way we can.

Abolitionist veganism is simple and logical: it's not ok to use animals AT ALL.

Things that have helped me to come to this conclusion:

Abolitionist Approach

Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary's Letter

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Food Room 101

If you've ever read 1984 or watched the movie then you will be familiar with the idea of Room 101. Or if you were born in 1984 like me then you will probably have grown up with people going "Ooooh, Big Brother is watching you...." or "oh, better not be bad Sarah or you'll get sent to Room 101."

Anyway, skipping gently on....

Room 101 (for those of you who sat in the back in English class) is the room where THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD IS. So whatever your deepest, darkest fear is, it will be in Room 101 waiting for you. Creepy! This idea captured people's imaginations obviously and there was (and still is???) a long running TV show in the UK called Room 101 where celebrities could submit a few items that they want vanquished to Room 101, never to return. People tried to appeal to the host of the show to let their item go in. Some examples of nominated items include the Welsh, ventriloquists, jellyfish, the British countryside, the rules of golf, cheese, annoying noises, Britney Spears, campfire songs etc etc. When I was young I always thought about the thing that I would like sent to Room 101 and so I decided, inspired by the vegan MoFo, it would be a fun post to think about the food items that I'd like "disappeared" from the face of the planet.

My nomination for your appraisal:
The Most Evil Food Known to Man - Spaghetti Hoops

I seriously, fucking loath this disgusting monstrosity of a food item. Since I was a child, this is the one food that I will not tolerate near me. Even one whiff of the bright bordering-on-radioactive orange "tomato" sauce is enough to make me puke in my mouth. Probably because it smells like vomit already. I have a horrifying memory of being given a plate of this on toast at my grandparents house and having to choke it down while simultaneously trying my hardest to not regurgitate all over the kitchen table. Urgh. Also, these things are just freakish and unnatural. And what happens to the middle bits of the hoops?
Basically , they look like crap, they taste like crap, they are full of crap - ergo they should not be allowed to exist anymore.

I'm sure I have some things that I'd like vanquished but that's definetely the one food that I just can't tolerate at all. How about you? What food do you really hate? I'm interested so leave a comment and let me know!

-- Sarah

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Easy Rainy Day Cornmeal Pancakes

Today in Osaka is a depressing grey drizzly kind of a day and since it's a Sunday (i.e. day of nothing interesting ever happening) I elected to have a cooking and cleaning day. I cleaned my stove, washed all the dishes and began sorting through the dry ingredients tucked away in my meager storage space. That's when I found the unopened bag of cornmeal that has been sitting in my cupboard for a couple of months now. Finally , today I decreed it to be Official Cornmeal Bag Opening Day (quite catchy, no?)
Anyway, I originally bought it to make some pumpkin cornmeal waffles but had to give the waffle maker back to my friend before I got round to it. So instead I decided to make flat waffles - otherwise known as pancakes. I couldn't find a recipe that I had enough ingredients for so I cobbled this one together from a few of them. I was very pleased with the results and decided to share it with you. These pancakes were a little crunchy and reminded me of a sweet taquito thus I decided to fold them over and eat them like tacos.

Anyway, here you go:

"It's a Crappy Sunday Afternoon" Cornmeal Pancakes
You will need:
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1 1/2 tblspoons lemon juice (I think vinegar would work too)
2 tblspoons oil (I used canola), plus some for greasing the frying pan
1 1/3 cups cornmeal
2/3 cup flour (I used all-purpose white)
1/3 cup brown sugar (optional)
1/2 tspoon salt
1/2 tspoon baking soda
2 tblspoons maple syrup
1 tspoon vanilla extract

1) Stir the lemon juice into the soy milk in a measuring cup or jug. Set aside for a couple of minutes to let the milk curdle.
2) Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar (if using), salt and baking soda together in a large bowl.
3) Stir the oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup into the milk mixture.
4) Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring gently and being careful not to over mix.
5) Drizzle a little oil into a non-stick frying pan and heat to medium heat.
6) When the pan is heated sufficiently, add about 1/4 cup batter and spread the it out evenly using a spatula.
7) Turn the pancake over when bubbles form on the surface and the batter begins to look "set."
N.B. I found these pancakes to be incredibly easy to flip and didn't break a single one so don't worry if you are nervous about that.
8) Continue to cook on either side until a nice golden brown colour is achieved.
9) Serve immediately with the topping of your choice!

I ate mine with brown sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on the inside. I dusted the tops with icing sugar and a little cocoa powder and served them with a cup of Yogi Tea Thai Sweet Delight.
Other toppings that I think would be good are soyatoo/vegan whipped cream, banana slices, grated dark chocolate, strawberries, raspberries and maple syrup. They are very adapatable so you could also try adding other things to the batter.

These really hit the spot!

-- Sarah

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Another Survey

I enjoy reading other people's surveys and learning more about my fellow vegan bloggers. I also think surveys are fun, so I'm gonna do another. This one is from the Get Sconed blog.
(I'm in pink today - Sarah)

1. What was the most recent tea you drank?

Yogi tea's Chai Redbush.
Yogi Tea's Thai Sweet Delight.

2. What vegan forums do you post/lurk on? If so, what is your username? Spill!

I spend most my of time at the Vegan Freaks Forum as japamela. I also have an account I occasionally use at the PPK also as japamela. Then I'm a member of a few others that I basically never check.
The only forum I actually contribute to is Vegan Freaks and my username is squirrelgaijin. I find other forums frustrating because people say things like "Of course I want everyone to be vegan and animal exploitation to stop but that's just never going to happen.... yada yada yada" and that kind of statement makes me want to stab...

3. You have to have tofu for dinner, and it has be an Italian dish. What comes to mind first?

Some kind of marinaded and baked tofu.
Lasagna with a tofu ricotta layer.

4. How many vegan blogs do you read on an average day?

I'm sort of ashamed to admit the number of vegan food blogs in my google reader. It must be well close to a hundred. I read as many as I can in my free time at work, maybe 20-30 blogs per day. I'm so behind since the Mofo began. I also have no internet at home, so I rarely check anything at night or weekends.
Only a daily basis, I only read a few although I wish I could read them all. I recently started using Google Reader so that number may increase soon!

5. Besides your own, what is the most recent one you’ve read?

The Sisters Vegan
I was checking out Fat Free Vegan this morning.

6. If you could hang out with a vegan blogger that you haven’t met, who would it be, and what would you do?

I'd say either Liz at Food Snobbery is my Hobbery or Lindy Loo at Yeah, That Vegan Shit. I love both their blogs and they seem like fun people to hang out with.
I second Lindy Loo at Yeah, That Vegan Shit. I have a little internet crush on her :)

7. If you had to base your dinners for a week around one of the holy trilogy – tofu, seitan or tempeh, which would it be?

I love me some seitan. Tofu is no longer exciting or interesting to me. It's so cheap and plentiful here.
I'd like to say the other two but feasibly, tofu would be my only option.

8. If you had to use one in a fight, which would it be?

Well, a seitan loaf could totally knock someone out...
Seitan for sure.

9. Name 3 meals you’d realistically make with that tough protein of choice!

The Italian Fauxsages from Fat Free Vegan, the stuffed "turkey" from Bryanna Clark Grogen (hopefully, I'll make that for Christmas this year), or the Faux Chicken from La Dolce Vegan (which I make fairly regularly). Ok, I'm gonna cheat and add one more I just found from Vegan Dad for a Stuffed Seitan loaf. I'd probably use my own stuffing, but that looks amazing!
Well tofu scramble is always an easy option so I'd make some kind of eye-wateringly spicy version and eat it with a side of avocado, some salad, refried beans and corn tortillas.
I think I'd make me some Kung Pao tofu too and eat that with some sesame noodles.
And third, I'd try out Pam's recipe for stuffed koyadofu and serve that with some miso shiru, a bowl of rice and some pickles.

10. What’s a recipe in vegan blogland that you’ve been eyeing?
I have quite a number starred in my google reader. Some for the day when I might go back to the states and thus have access to way more things and some that I want to make now. I really want to have bagels since I can't find many here and the ones I do are never vegan. The ones at No Whey, Jose! seem simple enough, so maybe those will be the ones I make. I know this is another seitan recipe, but I said it was my favorite! This is a Fried Seitan Salad from Vegan Yum Yum. I've been wanting to make a lattice cheesecake I saw over at Rural Vegan, since she posted it, but I've got around to it yet. I couldn't find the link, but I have it printed out at home and I really like it because it doesn't call for any vegan cream cheese (an ingredient not yet in Japan). I just realized after finishing this one, that I thought I was supposed to write 3 recipes.

I really want to try that lattice cheesecake too at some point, it looks amazing! And no vegan cream cheese required - genius! Other than that, I have my eye on so many recipes I don't even know where to begin. That Creamiest Mac'n'Cheez recipe that's been showing up everywhere is definetely on my wish lift. More specifically I'd love to try the amazing looking Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies from the Adventures of Superwife.

11. Do you own any clothing with vegan messages/brands on them?

Yeah, I have a few. One that says vegan in Japanese, one that says Powered by Tofu, a pink star with vegan written on it, and one that says Animal Liberation with an image of a bunch of different paws escaping from prison bars or bar codes.
I have the red Wings Are For Flying Not Frying shirt from Herbivore. And the same pink star vegan logo shirt that Pam has.

12. Have you made your pilgrimage to the 'vegan mecca' yet? (Portland, duh)

Not yet, but I'm hoping to make it there during a potential trip home in March.
Nope, one day maybe.

13. What age did you first go vegan? Did it stick?

27, and yes, I'll never go back.
17. It would have had I not moved to Japan when I was 21. Not that that's an excuse but I ate stuff with fish stock when I first came here (and probably many other things since I couldn't read Japanese). But now I'm vegan again and I'll never go back.

14. What is the worst vegan meal you’ve had? Who cooked it?

I don't think I've had a bad meal in the year or so that I've been vegan. The closest to it would have to be from the Italian restaurant I often visit with the boy. The staff is very kind and accommodating to us. So one time I wanted to order pizza, but of course all of their pizzas have meat and cheese. I ordered one and asked them to leave the cheese and meat off and if they could sub black olives. This was no problem and they did. I think they felt sorry for me for having to spend the money and not get 'as much', so they decided to add a bunch of other veggies on the pizza. Now normally that would be great, and I really appreciated the gesture. However, they added so many veggies that the pizza became soggy. Since then I stick to the pasta.
My worst vegan meal would have to be in days of student poverty when I would eat plain pasta with corn or just plain boring tomato pasta sauce. Blaaaah. Not disgusting just really boring. After my first year was over and I didn't have to share my kitchen with 16 other people, things got easier! haha

15. What made you decide to blog?
It just seemed like a good idea for all the things we can't put in our zine.

16. What are three of your favorite meals to make?

I tend to try an make a lot of new things, since I wanna make the most out of all of my cookbooks and it's something I enjoy doing. I make the Chickpea Cutlets from the Veganomicon on repeat. I also enjoy the roasted red pepper hummus from Alternative Vegan. The rosemary and white bean soup from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. I know these aren't exactly meals, but whatever.
When I'm at home or in a real kitchen, I love to make lasagna. My mum's vegan lasagna is the best in the world but I try to replicate it when I can. I like to eat it with a nice big leafy green salad drizzled with a simple mustard and olive oil vinaigrette.
Me and my old flatmate, used to make the best taco salads in the world and every time I eat one for the rest of my life, I'll be reminded of her (I miss you Kate!). These things were gigantic creations with layers and layers of amazing goodness. Just when you thought that you'd got everything, you'd discover a new taste or texture. Mmmm, I have great memories of eating those salads in Japan.
Lastly, I'd say my other favourite meal to prepare would be a tapas style deal with plates of olives, salad, hummus, baba ghanoush, flat bread, dolmades, felafel, roasted peppers etc. I love that style of eating and it reminds me very much of my dad and the style of dinner he used to prepare sometimes when I lived at home.

17. What dish would you bring to a vegan Thanksgiving-themed potluck?
Stuffing or vegan green bean casserole. I'm too lazy to make one of the seitan roasts for a potluck, unless I'm the host.
Well, I just saw an amazing pumpkin cheesecake recipe so I think I'd like to take that. Maybe a big pot of pumpkin soup too.

18. Where is your favorite vegan meal at a restaurant?
Like a regular restaurant? If I go to a Japanese style bar that would be fresh, cold tofu or fried gobo (burdock root). I also like udon.
I like to eat at David Bann's in Edinburgh as long as I'm not paying! In terms of places in Japan, Cafe Proverbs in Kyoto is probably my new favourite place. Their food is SO good!

19. What do you think the best chain to dine as a vegan is?

In Japan? Hahahaha...ok, but seriously...I guess Big Boy because of the salad bar or one of the many udon shops (as long as you bring your own sauce). Saizeriya also has a very cheap pepperoncino that's good.
Saizeriya because it's so cheap (although you can only eat about 2 things on the menu), Big Boy because of the salad bar (and it's awesome name) and "Nantoka" Shokudo which is a chain of Japanese style self-service restaurants where everything is really cheap and good (you need to be able to ask about the stock they use though in case it contains fish).

20. My kitchen needs a………

bread maker!

21. This vegetable is not allowed in my kitchen…..!

I think I'll try every vegetable. I honestly can't think of one that I don't like enough to never use it.
Can't think of anything right now.

22. What's for dinner tonight?

I have no idea yet. But I really need to use up some spaghetti sauce in the fridge and some spinach. Maybe I'll make some meatballs and have pasta. Oooh, that's sounding good...ok, decided.
I'm going to make some hummus and a veggie burger and eat that in a pita with salad and avocado.

23.Add a question here! What's a blog you read that has not yet been mentioned?

Well, there are many, but let's see...I'll go with Seitan is my Motor!


-- Sarah

Friday, 24 October 2008

Fur Follow Up

I wanted to add something about our earlier fur march post.

Japan has very few opportunities for us to meet fellow AR activists or vegans, so we thought the march would be a potentially good place to meet people, as well as give out our zine. It was also our first time to see what sort of movement is going on here. We ended up not giving out too many zines because we were both kind of crabby and the march ended up going longer than we thought, so at the end we had to run off to the concert. At the concert we gave out about 60 zines.

Anyway, yesterday I stumbled upon this post by Bob Torres of Vegan Freak. I think his article sums up exactly how we feel about this issue. I urge you to read the full article, it's fairly short and very well written.

Let me post a few of the most striking parts of it for me.

"I do not think that fur is worse because it is more
expensive, and in any case, I’m really not into comparing wrongs in this regard:
if you believe that animal exploitation is wrong, fur is just as bad as
leather—period. "
And this one:
"Veganism is the conscious rejection of all forms of animal cruelty and
exploitation in one’s life; it is the only real and all-encompassing solution.
If you want to make a difference, don’t bother with Zappo’s and fur; don’t
bother with cage-free eggs; don’t bother with organic milk. Go vegan, use your
talents to get others to consider veganism, and help build a genuine movement of
people who will directly challenge the root causes of animal exploitation.
Anything else is ignoring the real problem."
I think I'll leave it there for now. Please read the article, it will give you a good understanding of where we are coming from with our veganism.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Wonderful World of Smoothies

I haven't done this recently because it's starting to get cold. But for a long time I was making smoothies for breakfast every morning. It wasn't long ago that I thought smoothies were a complicated art that I was not ready for. How wrong I was...I've seen recipes in many cookbooks calling for sugar, vanilla extract, ice cubes, etc. And while these might make a better smoothie, they are by no means necessary.

My basic smoothie goes like this:

-some soymilk
-2 kinds of fruit (I mix frozen, fresh, and canned)
-about a Tbsp of flaxseeds (not always, it makes the smoothies very thick)
-some kind of green (depending on if I have any on hand)
That's all you need! There is no need for anything fancy. I mix canned and fresh fruit because fresh fruit is very expensive here. The combinations are endless and I've only had a few that I had to 'choke' down. So word of advice, cantelope doesn't really work in a smoothie.

I'll show you a few of the ones I've made.


Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Over-Stuffed Tofu

As promised I think I have the recipe ready for the stuffed Koyadofu高野豆腐).

Koyadofu, also known as freeze dried tofu, is great for stuffing because it's flexible and kind of sponge like, so it rarely tears. It also absorbs flavors well.

I was inspired to make this recipe while in the grocery store a few weeks ago. It was the start of the Mofo so I was checking out some cooking magazines near the front for inspiration. The magazine had a recipe for stuffed koyadofu. Do you know what it was stuffed with? That's right, minced pork. I mean what goes better with tofu than minced pig meat. Sick! I was so angered by this image that I slammed the magazine close without actually looking at how it was prepared and marched over to the section to get freeze dried tofu. And went home and got straight to work. That's how this recipe was born.

I love boiled koyadofu. My boyfriend's mom often boils up a bunch of the small ones and I can eat most of them in one sitting. I used her method in this recipe for preparing the koyadofu.

Over-Stuffed Tofu

4 blocks of the large size koyadofu

For the tofu:
3 cups water
4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp sugar
a pinch of salt

Bring to a boil. Add the koyadofu and boil for about 10 minutes. Then let them sit in the hot liquid for another 5 minutes, covered.

For the stuffing:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 small nub of ginger
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 large carrot or 2 small
2 cups spinach, cut into bite size pieces
handful toasted walnuts
2 Tbsp green onions, sliced

Before preparing the stuffing, drain the koyadofu and leave it in a strainer. It will be far too hot to handle, so I put a bag of frozen veggies in the strainer and set it aside while I make the stuffing.

Fry the ginger and garlic in the oil. After a minute or two add the carrots, spinach, and soy sauce. Fry it all together until the spinach is wilted, about 5-8 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the toasted walnuts and green onions and mix it all together.

Now that the tofu is cooled enough to handle, use a serated knife to cut a pocket into the tofu on the long side. Like this:

Then shove as much stuffing into it as you can with a spoon.  I think it looks good a little over-stuffed.

I then put all four filled pieces onto a glass baking dish and put it in the oven for 10 minutes at 180 (celsius-350 Fahrenheit) just to bring everything back to the same temperature. Enjoy!

If you have extra filling, it works nicely in a tofu scramble for breakfast the next day.

The filling is also very flexible depending on your tastes or what you have on hand. I think almond slivers would work to replace the walnuts. You could also use different vegetables you have on hand or some spices. I kept spices out, to more mimic the Japanese style of cooking.

If you don't live in Japan, I'm sure you can get koyadofu in an Asian market.

Let me know what you think!


I also made this recipe for the Iron Chef Challenge.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Anti-Fur Rally

On Sunday, Pamela and I woke up early (much to my delight after a night of drinking and karaoke with my cousin who is visiting at the moment...) and headed off to an anti-fur demonstration in Osaka. In case you are not aware, fur is big business in Japan. In fact, right now, it's everywhere. I can barely walk down the street without being confronted by a disgusting shop window display or some girl with a gross fur scarf on. I've never seen so much fur in my life and so little public outcry about it.
Anyway, this was the first protest that I'd been to in Japan and it was pretty good. Of course, since it was in Japan, we had to be well organised and supervised and it was hardly the rousing and energetic demo that I'm used to in the UK (albeit with a refreshing lack of police brutality).
Unfortunately, me and Pamela were not exactly in the best of moods. And when we arrived both of us instantly scanned and noted the number of leather items adorning the protesters. How ironic and yet how unsurprising for anyone who has lived in or experienced Japan for long enough. Actually, that's not fair - it's not just Japanese people that can't draw that parallel; it's about 80% of the people who are against the use of fur. Anyway, I tried to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and hope that perhaps it was pleather or another cheap imitation (because even I own a pair of boots that look quite like leather but are actually just a cheap crappy synthetic). Had we quizzed people on how long they'd been veg*n.... well, I think we may have been thoroughly dissapointed.

Here are some pictures from the march:

I chose to carry a placard with a message on one side and a picture of a skinned fox on the other. I caught a lot of people looking and turning away in disgust and Pamela spotted one girl who we think was crying because of what she saw. Of course, since fur is so popular here and part of the route took us down the busiest shopping area in the south of Osaka, there were a number of people wearing fur items. Some of them walked away, some of them covered the offending article and some of them brazenly stared, walked on and seemed unaffected. As with any protest, there were unfortunately a few asshats who made comments and I wished at that moment that I knew how to say "you have no heart" in Japanese. Honestly, I have no idea how someone can be confronted with images such as those on the placards and be unphased. But then again, how many people know the pain and suffering involved in the meat and dairy industries and yet continue to support them? *sigh*

After the protest, we headed off to Umeda (the northern center of Osaka city) to see our boyfriends' band. The show was sponsored by Thrasher magazine so there was also a small skate ramp in the hall they were using. In between band sets, me and Pam caught up with a member of Child School TV: the second band to play that day. Gome (that's his name) is pretty frickin awesome and not only did he give us each a t-shirt, since it had been our birthdays recently, but he also talked to us about how he really wants to become a vegetarian. We talked for a while about the best way for him proceed and agreed that first he should elimate all beef, pork and poultry from his diet. Then after that, he can start working on the fish thing (I'd say that fish is by far the hardest thing for a Japanese person to give up since it's in so many dishes and in so many forms). Well, later on, he went to Subway and came back to tell us that he got the egg and vegetable sandwich. I, so very unsuble that I am, let out a dissapointed sigh at this because I hoped he would have got the avocado veggie option. But for him, skipping the meat, was a big deal so I have to give him props for that. I guess we'll see how he does as time goes on. I think he really agrees with us but it's just hard to change your mindset after almost 28 years of thinking that eating and using animals is not only acceptable but not even a moral issue.

GxOxMxE - 頑張れ!

-- Sarah

Monday, 20 October 2008

A Day in the Life

I subscribed to Fit Day a long time ago and had always wanted to use it to just see how I'm doing in terms of getting all the rights nutrients.

So I figured I might as well take the oppurtunity of the MoFo to get my butt in gear. It took me forever to enter what I'd eaten so I doubt I'll be using it regularly, but it is helpful. By the way, I cook a lot of recpies myself, does anyone know if there is a way to add a whole recipe as one item? For example, I had to find every ingredient for the chili I made and then estimate how much of the recipe I ate. I figured all the premade and canned ones would be way off since they included meat or loads of salt or totally different ingredients. So it would be useful if I could have a recipe analyzed and then just click that recipe to add to my daily food log and adjust for how much of it I'd eaten.

Anyway, here's what I ate for the day.

Breakfast: I usually have a smoothie, but I recently realized you can eat oats raw (I have no idea why I didn't know that), so I decided to have an oat cereal. I used:

1/2 c oats
1/4 c raisins
1 Tbsp dried shredded coconut (unsweetened, but FitDay only had sweetened)
1 Tbsp frozen raspberries
1/2 c vanilla rice dream
1 Tbsp sliced almonds

It was actually too sweet, but really tasty.

Lunch: I always bring my lunch to work. It's usually leftovers from dinner. Today was no exception. I had the Red, Gold, Black, and Green Chili from the FatFree Vegan. I didn't use barley or the hot sauce and I had no garlic, so I used garlic powder. I ate the chili over 1/2 c of brown rice.

Dinner: I gave up. It's too hard to enter each ingredient for a whole recipe. I had brown rice, General Tao's tofu (subbing La Dolce Vegan's Faux Chicken for the tofu), and the Nasu Don from the Vegan Ronin. Here's a picture instead.

So what were my results? Well, I found out I have no idea how to import the graph from my page, but let me tell you a few things it said. (Remember this is only for breakfast and lunch.)

I'd had 916 calories.
I had over 100% of my daily need of carbs, fiber, Vitamin C, copper, sodium, and manganese.

I ate 61% of the protein (which I'm sure was pushed over 100% with my dinner).

I had 24% of the calcium.

And about 50% or more of the other needs, except Vitamin B12, D and E. (I get my D through some form of sunshine everyday and my B12 through nutritional yeast and a supplement, so I'm not too worried).

What do I think about it?
I ate way more sodium than I thought I do. I don't even particularly care for salt and don't add it to things that often. I also ate less things containing calcium than I thought. I know calcium is in dark, leafy greens and I don't eat enough of those because of their price and lack of variety in Japan. I can pretty much only get spinach (that I like and know how to use) or powdered kale.

I'm also not sure how accurate this thing is. Like it didn't ask me about cooking methods. But there you have it. Do any of you use FitDay? And if so, do you know how a recipe can be put in?

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Birthday Parties and the Myth of the Militant Vegan

I hate parties. I hate big groups of people. I hate the pressure of organising things. So why then, you might ask, did I decide to invite all my friends to Osaka for the weekend to celebrate my 24th birthday? I don't know but it seemed like the right thing to do. Plus, it was Pam's birthday around that time too so it was an excuse to make her come to Osaka and hang out with me.

Since this party was for me and Pam, I wanted the eating part of the occasion to be entirely vegan if at all possible. There is a great restaurant in Osaka called Green Earth but it usually closes at 5pm every day. However, since I remembered that they host vegetarian parties, I figured why not ask if they will stay open later for us? And when I say "I" I mean "my boyfriend" who called and organised it all. hehe.

Anyway, the one thing you must remember when you invite a bunch of non-vegan friends to eat vegan food is that people will make various comments ranging from positive to, what you may deem to be, ridiculous, arrogant and/or enraging. I love my friends a lot and they are all great people but when a bunch of vegans are enjoying their food, it's really a lesson in survival to keep your mouth shut. There is a time and place for criticism of veganism and it is not over delicious food and at a birthday party.

Also, my other observation is that people still believe in this myth of the militant vegan. Of course there are plenty of vegans who won't hide their disgust while their friends tuck in to dead flesh but I think I've learned that people are incredibly sensitive when they are eating/cooking and antagonising someone is not the best way to make veganism seem appealing. Honestly, the vegans that I know are all really nice people. Yeah, they feel strongly about their lifestyles but they don't (usually!) go around starting arguments over dinner. In my whole entire life as a vegetarian and later as a vegan, I have probably started 1 or 2 discussion which have turned into arguments. However, I can't count on all my fingers and toes how many times people have attacked me or made disparaging comments instantly as soon as I mention that I'm vegan (and please note: I didn't bring up without any reason, it usually just comes up naturally since they wonder why I'm not eating the pizza everyone is sharing etc).
In my experience people tend to choose one of three paths when faced with a vegan:

1) become instantly defensive

2) make stupid jokes about how vegans just eat tofu and carrots and/or are puny, pasty weaklings

3) are interested and ask insightful questions (or sometimes stupid questions but that's OK because at least they are being friendly)

Well frankly, I am fucking sick of the first two. If you start an argument with me, you better be willing to take it as good as you can dish it out. Because I pretty much guarantee you, that I have a response to every one of your dumbass comments and I know a damn sight more about animal behaviour and physiology, nutrition, the environment, and farming practices than you do! So suck it!

One last rant, if an omnivore criticises my food then it's OK - it's just their opinion. But if I criticise your food then it must be because I'm a VEGAN (cue scary horror music). Never mind that I've always hated the sight, smell and taste of bacon and sausages, even when i was a tiny kid. Never mind that loads of people think that cow's milk is fucking gross. Never mind that loads of people think eating an entire plate of meat is nasty and also a heart attack waiting to happen.

But of course, I'm forgetting: it's NORMAL to eat meat. And becoming vegan instantly marks you as being insane.
We are the vegan freaks after all.

-- Sarah

Sing it sister.


Friday, 17 October 2008

Birthday Bash Part 2ish

So it was an extended birthday weekend...

My birthday was on Monday, the 13th, which also coincided with a National Japanese Holiday (パメラの日). The big party was over on Saturday and our boy's had a show. I asked Sarah to meet me before the show, just so I didn't feel super lame about being alone while the boys had sound check. So we hit Moby Dick, a buffet chain restaurant. This is NOT a vegan restaurant, but they do have many options for vegans. They have also added allergy index cards in front of most of the items, so you can usually figure out what is vegan.

Here's my plate. If you look in the background you can see my present from Sarah! It's an awesome vegan, Japanese cookbook. Hopefully, I'll be posting something from out of it shortly, I just have no food in my apartment and can't decide what to make.

My boyfriend plays the trombone. He was nice enough to mouth the words Happy Birthday to me from the stage. I felt special.

After the show, he skipped the after party and we went to Big Boy, which is basically just a big steak house/family style restaurant. The only perk to it is that they have a good vegetarian salad bar.

All in all I had a very nice birthday. I got to see some of my favorite people and eat at 2 buffets, what can be better?


My first plate of yummy stuff from the buffet:

Rice with konbu and wakame, umeboshi and some other pickles:

My dessert plate (nashi pear chunks, azuki bean jellies, orange slices):