Recipe: French-Canadian Tofu with Rice and Fruit

January 27, 2007

This recipe, which is my first serious attempt at culinary improvisation, was the direct result of divine inspiration.1 Luckily for you, it is my vegan duty to publish this on the intertubes and spread the faith. Enjoy!

1 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup finely grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped curly parsley
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
approx. 1 1/2 cups red wine
approx. 3/8 cup maple syrup (the real kind)
1 medium yellow onion, quartered and sliced thin
extra firm tofu
2 red bell peppers
2 granny smith apples
juice from 1/4 of a lemon
2 bananas
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

This recipe has three parts which need to be cooked more or less simultaneously.

(1) Rice: I like to add olive oil and salt to my rice, but just do what you do, and when it’s done stir in the carrots, parsley, and walnuts.

(2) French-Canadian Tofu: Begin reducing the wine to a more manageable volume by simmering in a small pot. Then add the maple syrup and set aside. Crumble the tofu into small raspberry sized chunks and fry with the onions in a saucepan. Sprinkle generously with salt. When the onions and tofu have browned a little reduce the heat and add the wine-maple syrup mix. Stir the tofu so that it gets completely coated by the sauce. Simmer until most but not all of the sauce has evaporated.

(3) Fruit: Cut the peppers and apples into bite-sized chunks and fry in a saucepan. Add the lemon juice and a little bit of water if necessary. Once they are beginning to soften add the bananas and season with dried basil. Cook until the bananas are soft.

Combine the three dishes and enjoy. Serves 2 – 4.

Please go ahead and try the recipe and leave a message in the comments letting me know what you think. If you “don’t like” tofu (whatever that means), try it anyway. This might be the recipe that transforms you from a tofu-abstaining heathen to a devout recreational vegan! (You’ll thank me later when you pass through heaven’s pear-glazed gates.)

1 There are only two possible explanations for the spontaneous creation of such an amazing recipe by a relatively inexperienced cook: (1) unconscious plagiarism, and (2) divine intervention. The first explanation can be ruled out with a high degree of confidence given that a quick perusal of the author’s cookbooks turned up no recipes even remotely similar to this one. Therefore it is clear that the goddess Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a vegan chef residing in Brooklyn, must have communicated this recipe to me via divine will. To bring yourself closer to Isa read the bible (VWAV) every day. If you don’t own a copy obtain it immediately, whether at your local bookstore or from vegan hotel night tables. It will save your recreationally vegan soul.

Recipe: Spinach in Crushed-Pear Juice

January 24, 2007

In preparation for the upcoming Vegan New Year celebrations (year of the pear) I present a simple recipe of my own creation.

You can find crushed pear juice in Koreatown’s P.A.T. Central Market (675 Bloor West) or Walnut Cake eatery. It is theoretically conceivable to substitute pear juice of the non-Korean non-crushed variety, but this has not been properly tested and will likely yield substandard results.

238 mL crushed pear juiceSpinach crushed pear
1 bunch fresh spinach
dried rosemary to taste

chopped walnuts

Pour crushed pear juice into a sauce pan and simmer until it has thickened somewhat. Add spinach. When spinach is cooked, season with rosemary, sprinkle with chopped walnuts and enjoy.

Bringing in the Year of the Pear

January 22, 2007

February 18 marks Chinese new years and the beginning of the Year of the Pig. The pig is a “shy character who prefers to work quietly behind the scenes. When others despair, he/she is often there to offer support (1)” The recreational vegan has decided to celebrate this event by nominating a fruit of the year that shares similar characteristics.

The pear. Seemingly always ripe, it’s there for you when you need it most. It’s sweet, remarkably juicy and delicious. But the pear is not flashy. Often mishaped, it’s not a symbol of seduction (e.g., the strawberry). Nor is it ever placed at the level of dessert worthiness (e.g., apple pie, banana shake). It truly is a “behind the scenes” kind of fruit.

Stay tuned as the recreational vegan (seen below in customary pear worship) begins its official celebration of the pear.


Vegan athleticism: Addendum

January 19, 2007

Following a previous post which gave incontrovertible evidence that an animal-free diet enhances athletic performance, vegans and non-vegans alike are probably searching for vegan energy bars in record numbers.

Fortunately, research into providing new energy bars (which will hopefully accomodate surging demand) is already underway. Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are studying the effects of red lentils on athletic performance. It will come as no surprise to readers of this website that lentils are “the perfect food for athletes.”1 One of the ultimate goals of the research is to develop a pulse-based energy bar. According to lentil expert Phil Chilibeck, current energy bars just aren’t very effective.

To find out whether the new lentil energy bars under development will be vegan, the Recreational Vegan (TRV) conducted an interview with Professor Chilibeck (PC).

TRV: I read with interest an article about your research on lentil energy bars in the Vancouver Sun. I was wondering if the sports bars being developed will be vegan (i.e., free of animal products like dairy and meat). Also, would a vegan energy bar be more efficient or “better” than a non-vegan bar?

PC: The energy bar development is a bit down the road right now for us. The first step in our current research is to see how beneficial they are for improving athletes’ performances. The next step (probably a year or so from now) is to develop a good way to deliver the lentils, as in an energy bar. At the start of the project we discussed some components that may go into the bar and things like hemp oil, and conjugated linoleic acid (extracted from sunflower oil) were discussed. I don’t think they would include any animal products. If and when we go to develop a bar I will try to push for no animal products.

Thanks, Phil!

Self Sufficiency Part II

January 18, 2007

Nuclear war. Rise of fascism. Cylon attack. A sudden realization that the hermit life is the better way.

Preparation is the key to survival. During times of trouble supermarkets will be stocking canned tuna, guns, and bibles. Hardly the ammunition for the recreational vegan. The recreational vegan warrior needs a rich, fatty, buttery fruit in her fight against evil to calm her senses and keep her mind on the goals. So next to your lemon tree, plant an avocado tree. Ideally the plants will be left near your nuclear-attack-proof cellar so that when you run downstairs you can grab the life-saving fruits on your way.

I chose to seed my avocado in water, following these directions.


The Calculus of Veganism

January 13, 2007

The purpose of this post is to provide rigorous microfoundations for %95 veganism. The post is structured as follows. This paragraph summarizes the post. The next paragraph models consumer utility as a function of animal welfare and a composite good, while the third paragraph derives a relationship between the two. The fourth paragraph shows that %95 is the optimal amount of veganism for a rational consumer. The last paragraph concludes.

Let a represent animal welfare and b a composite good consisting of all other goods. Assume a utility function of the form U(a, b) = ln a + ln b. It is easy to see that Ua > 0 for all a, indicating that the consumer benefits from the well-being of animals. This is consistent with the psychological evidence.

As noted in an earlier post consumption is inexorably linked to animal welfare, and therefore we can write b = f (a). It is reasonable to assume that f ‘ < 0. For tractability, assume that f takes the form f (a) = e-ka, where k is a constant. Testing the validity of these assumptions is left as an exercise for the reader.

Substituting into U gives U(a, f (a)) = ln aka. Note that beyond a certain point the second term is growing faster than the first, indicating that an optimum will be reached before a grows very large. This implies that consumers are boundedly compassionate in the sense that they are not willing to forgo consumption entirely for the sake of their furry friends. Maximizing with respect to a shows that U reaches an optimum at a = 1/k. Evaluating the ratio a/b at the optimum gives e/k which equals 0.95 for k = 2.86. This value of k is consistent with some empirical evidence.1

In conclusion, classical microeconomic theory behaviour predicts that consumers will be %95 vegan if they are boundedly compassionate and rational. Future research could discuss the implications of heterogeneous goods (i.e., food and non-food goods) for the model. I would like to thank my coauthor, therecreationalvegan, for his many useful suggestions in developing this post. All mistakes are my own.

1Consistent is being used in the probabilistic sense here, meaning that as r -> infinity (where r is empirical research) the probability limit that empirical research will find evidence for k = 2.86 is 1.

Homage to the vegan athlete

January 12, 2007

Today, the Recreational Vegan pays tribute to Scott Yurek (vegan since 1999). Scott holds two consecutive wins as well as the record time (24:36:08) for the Badwater ultramarathon, a 135 mile jogging competition which starts 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley and finishes 8,360 feet up Mount Whitney.

In addition to refuting the (ethnocentric/foodist) drivel that vegans are weaklings, Scott’s success has clear implications for aspiring athletes:

(1) Following a balanced vegan diet will greatly increase your chances of winning athletic competitions.

(2) If unable to follow a vegan diet one will likely require performance enhancing drugs to compete with super-human vegan athletes.