Monthly Archives: August 2008

Food Wars: Carnivore, Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw

So I’m vegan.  I don’t really talk about it too much on Blog Well Done because I am afraid I might scare off some of my hypothetical readers.

I wasn’t always vegan but got inspiration from,  In fact, when I was still doing, I was a carnivore, though given that my wife was vegetarian, I was at least veg-friendly.

In this post, I could recount my path towards going vegan or I can drone on endlessly about my vegan manifesto, but suffice it to say, I am not one of those vegans.  If you eat meat, more power to you.  I choose not to and I have good reasons for it which I will gladly share.  If you ask.

That being said, I find something awe-inspiringly frustrating about being vegan and life I guess.  When I ate meat, vegetarians called me a murderer (seriously.)  When I became a lazy vegetarian (for me this meant the kind that eats fish), true vegetarians and vegans told me it wasn’t enough.  When I became a true vegetarian, vegans told me I was stupid to eat dairy.  When I became vegan, the raw foodists told me I was stupid because I cooked things that were killing me from the inside.

(Of course, many of them eat sushi so I could have chosen to turn my nose up at them.  I instead asked them how they justified use of a dehydrator.  I highly suggest asking this if you ever want to see a gaggle of raw foodists go on the defensive.  I swear it was an honest question.)

Oh, and now, of course, as a vegan, meat eaters make me a target for their scorn as well.  I have relatives apologizing that I have to eat disgusting things like portobello mushrooms and veggie burgers.  I have friends who worry about going out to restaurants with me.

I do not believe I realized how political this decision was when I made it.  I fully expected some backlash, especially from others who had had military veg*ns call them murderers.  What I did not expect was the food-circle-of-finger-pointing.  I naively believed that non-meat eaters were basically a unified front.  Silly me.  In fact, at one point, it was a bunch of veg*n animal rights activists that nearly drove me to eat meat again, just because I wanted to disassociate myself from their behaviors.

I guess what I am doing here, besides ranting, is reaffirming my personal creedo.  What you eat is nobody’s business but your own since you doubtlessly are going to upset someone.  (This doesn’t apply to cannabals.  I would kindly ask them to consider changing their diet.)  If you eat veal wrapped foie gras, great!  If you eat nothing but what falls from the trees, great!  If you are a vegan, great!

Ultimately, I have made my dietary choice and I believe it was the right one.  If you disagree, I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong.  I’m going to feed you vegan food.  And you’re going to love it.  Then we’ll talk about the benefits of a vegan diet.


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Mexican Pinto Beans

Even though I said I’d be doing a lot of Chinese cookery over in the blog, tonight I decided to finally break down and make my own refried beans. 

I found this little article on how to make them.

The article described a fast way and a slow to make them.  I went with the fast way which said to rinse the beans for 60 seconds, bring them to boil in a pot of water deep enough that they were covered by at least three inches of water, simmer for 15 minutes, and then let them sit for an hour.

Seeing as how this was the “fast way” and it involved heat, I thought I’d be making tacos in an hour and fifteen minutes.

After about 3 hours my wife points out the line in the how to which reads that once you’ve done the fast way, you then have to cook them for an additional four hours before the are ready to eat.

So tonight’s dinner…leftovers.  Tomorrow: tacos!

I did get one good pic of them.


And perhaps waiting a day will make me want them more.

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Chinese Cooking

Chinese cooking has long been an topic at which I have turned up my nose. For many years, I was awash in a sea of Panda Expresses, crab rangoon filled with Philadelphia cream cheese, and MSG-laden Chinese buffets.

A lot of that had to do with college. During those four years, I looked at Chinese cooking as a cheap alternative to dorm food. I could get a complete meal for $5 or I could drive to the buffet and stuff myself silly for $6.

Frankly, when that is all the Chinese cooking one eats, well, one can get a distorted view of the treasures Chinese cooking has to offer.

My re-engagment into Chinese cooking is actually due in a large part to a restaurant here in Kansas City called Andy’s Wok. Andy’s Wok has no buffet and is anything but cheap. Instead, it reminded me that there is a skill and an artistry to good Chinese cooking and it made me want to learn it on my own. But, if Andy’s Wok got me started, Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop fanned the flames. Her travel memoir of time spent in Sichuan province learning the food, leaning Chinese cooking at one of their gourmet academies, and learning the culinary history of the nation really got me excited to tackle Sichuan and Chinese cooking.

Since reading her book, I have invested in a number of new items:

  • Fuchsia’s Chinese Cooking book on Hunan-style cuisine
  • Sichuan Peppercorns
  • Sichuan chili bean paste (sadly it’s not as hot as I had hoped)
  • And a hotpot in a box kit in anticipation of throwing a hot pot party

A lot of my culinary explorations in Blog Well Done will focus on Chinese cooking over the next several months. There is a whole country I need to cook.

To get things rolling, this is a recipe for a sauce I used tonight. Use it for your next stir fry.

  • 4 tablespoons broth
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon of garlic*
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger*
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon of Sichuan chili bean paste
  1. Mix ingredients well in a bowl.
  2. Stir fry meats and vegetables.
  3. Add noodles (if desired)
  4. Stir the sauce to make sure none of the sugar, garlic or ginger has settled to the bottom
  5. Add the sauce to the wok. Stir until the sauce thickens.

* Yes, I know I should use fresh, but my son was hungry and I had to think fast. 🙂


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