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I’m Not Vegan (and Neither are You)

The one thing that running/jogging does for me is allow me time to think. It is time I can get away from the lure of the computer, cell phone, the responsibilities of keeping a house, maintaining a property or other life’s duties. Running is “me time” and the random things that come to my mind have frequently become posts on our running blog, See Jain Run.

As I ran on the shoulder of the road the one day I came upon a patch of motor oil that I hopped over to avoid. I avoided it mainly not knowing if I might slip in it and my quick reaction made me chuckle. I had acted as though I was avoiding stepping into dog waste or onto a dead animal or something dangerous. My free associating then took me to, “Well you wouldn’t want to step in oil, you are vegan and the dinosaurs died for that you know.”

That really got me thinking; no one in our modern day society is really vegan then. Anyone who uses fossil fuels, directly or indirectly can’t call themselves vegan. I mean I don’t drive, never have but I take the bus. So what if I choose only to ride my bike? What about my bike tires? Running shoes? Sure they might not have leather uppers but what about the plastics they are made out of?

Think about pre-packaged foods. Those seaweed snacks that come on those non-resealable plastic bags with a plastic tie so they don’t get crushed and a desiccant so they don’t dry out can not be good for the environment. I don’t live anywhere near seaweed so they had to be produced and shipped from quite a distance. Many vegans eat Sabra hummus as a staple, even packing the small prepackaged containers in their family’s lunch boxes. A lot of places aren’t set up for recycling those plastics and if they are how many people bring them home to recycle?

I think being a caring role model in life that is mindful and does a greater service to the earth and all living things than being a strict vegan who is obnoxious. Those who lead by sincere examples in their own lives have a stronger positive influence than those who stuff images of brutalized animals into peoples faces (at vegetarian festivals for Goddess-sake). Eat local and don’t shove it in other’s faces. I can think of some thoughtful life-long hunters who are more mindful and have a better impact on this planet than so many of the Johnny-come-lately-vegan-for-a-year individuals who set bad examples and waste so much of the planets resources in pre-packged nibbles.

I can tell you this through my own personal experiences, people have to be open to ideas to accept them so why not share what is important in a thoughtful way. Education is important but having a vegan potluck following movies that “educate” about animal brutality or ill health and gruesome imagery is so unthoughtful. My failures were on a much less graphic scale but they did touch people in negative ways. I sat with factory farming brochures and all I got were arguments. I asked family members not to give our young son hunting or fishing themed toys and clothes as gifts and alienated many of them. A gift is a gift, I didn’t have to be obnoxious.

Nothing about this has a positive impact.

Nothing about this has a positive impact.

Being mindful is key in my opinion. I have had more influence and the positive ripples have gone much farther just by leading a mindful vegan life. I have had people tell me that they had never met such a pleasant vegan before in their lives because I didn’t look down on them nor preach to them about my life choices. They ask me if it ok to order meat in front of me and who am I to tell them not? I was an ominvore – vegetarian once too. Having someone tell me that a head of lettuce might scream when it gets eaten is just as cruel as ranting about the plight of calves raised for veal and de-beaked chickens. All that ever got me was arguments and teasing and changed me from a confidant young woman into an introvert for living what I believed was an ethical way.

Being “tolerant” is also no way to be; live with genuine compassion and acceptance. If there are cruel, harsh or imposing individuals around you, excuse yourself. You don’t need to have your buttons pushed to make you feel like you have to hop on (or off) any bandwagon. You don’t have to defend what is or isn’t on your supper plate and you don’t have to go hug the living animals that were saved from being eaten. Talk about awkward. Just eat your yams and help muck out a stall later. Photos at animal sanctuaries are pure self promotion (why do you think they are called “selfies”).

It’s no wonder so many of the chefs on popular cooking shows “hate vegans.” I am tired of making trouble in other people’s homes or restaurants so I eat before I go usually. Yes, that means that there is dealing with not eating when others are but the only other option is the rude “bring your own” food. Like someone’s cooking won’t be good enough.

The next time you hear of someone leading a one wo/man mission trying to draw attention to raise awareness or money, ask yourself if it is really benefiting the larger cause. Attention seeking brings negative attention too. Live by example, give to your favorite charity, don’t wear animal products and don’t advertise it. Most of all, don’t go for a run.

So, yes, I am still vegan – or not, depending on if you ask the dinosaurs or the bug I swallowed while running.

Vegan Deviled “Eggs”

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Oh yes, they are! DevVeg2

Some might ask, “Why veganize something as odd as a hard-cooked chicken hen’s egg that has been fancied up with spices?” In a word, nostalgia. Not many current day vegans were raised as vegan let alone vegetarian. That’s right, sentimental memories of meals spent with those we love on holidays. Remembering family picnics or the way my Dad slurped in a deviled eggs so fast it disappeared before our eyes in an instant is why I chose to try a vegan deviled egg recipe. I have to say I did very little to Maresa’s vegan deviled egg recipe from Lagusta’s Luscious! but am writing out my exact modifications below.

We tried 4 different modifications on the yolk mixture, some that compared the Just Mayo by Hampton Creek to Veganaise. We thought the Veganaise was a little less salty and decided on a tofu and chestnut mixture as opposed to Maresa’s just tofu version. We haven’t had eggs in years but these brought back clear memories and were a very pleasing appetizer.

Vegan Deviled Eggs

makes 24 traditional sized pieces

The Whites:
2 Cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 t agar powder
1/4 t Kala Namak (Indian black salt) – NO SUBSTITUTIONS

The Yellows:
12 oz. extra firm tofuDevVeg3
4 oz. cooked and peeled chestnuts (about 6)
4 T Vegenaise (Nayonaise is too sweet and Just Mayo was a little too salty)
1/4 C vegetable oil
2 t prepared yellow mustard
1 T prepared horseradish
1 t kosher salt
¾ t Kala Namak (Indian black salt) – NO SUBSTITUTIONS
1 t turmeric
black pepper to taste
paprika to top
parsley to garnish

The Whites:
DevVeg4Bring all ingredients to a boil, whisking all the time. Pour into egg shaped (or similar sized) molds and refrigerate until set up (~ 30 minutes). When the whites are set, use a melon-baller to scoop a bit out. This is where you will fill it with the yellows.

The Yellows:
Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. I suggest scraping down the sides and as much as you can around the bottom a couple of times and blending again since you want to get the chestnuts as fine as possible.

Finish the pieces off by either spooning or piping the yellows into the hollow of the whites and heaping it up a bit. Sprinkle on a little paprika and place some parsley around the pieces on a decorative plate. Any extra yellow can be served on the side with crudités.DevVeg1

Vegan Corned Beef and Cabbage

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I remember one year on St. Pats that it was so warm we cooked outside. This year we still have snow on the ground and I thought I would try a more traditionally flavored recipe of Corned Beef and Cabbage and using another new seitan product.
Vegan Corned Beef and Cabbage

2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1/2 medium head of cabbage, sliced into 3/4″ strips
4 carrots cut into 2″ pieces, quartering the thickest ones
4 small potatoes cut into wedges
4 stalks of celery cut on an angle into pieces, mince any leaves
1 large apple cored and cut into pieces the same size as the potato wedges
3 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. sharp hot mustard
1 tsp. mild horseradish
2 Tbsp. malt vinegar
Some pickling spices in a muslin sack (a couple whole cloves, some whole all spice and a couple bay leaves)
8 oz. prepared seitan, sliced (I used and like Sweet Earth)
2 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1/3 cup water
2 Tbs. dry red wine
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

• Preheat the oven to 200°F.
• Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions until just starting to brown, then add the rest of the vegetables, 1 cup of the vegetable broth, mustard, horseradish, pickling spices in tied sack and vinegar then simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
• Add the seitan, then simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 more minutes. Remove the vegetables and seitan to a serving dish with a slotted spoon and keep them warm in the oven.
•Mix the flour with the water and wine, add to the pot with 2 cups of the broth (keep spice sack in at this point), and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove spice sack and pour the gravy over the cabbage mixture in the serving dish. Garnish with the parsley and serve.CBC

Veganizing The Moosewood Cookbook – Hungarian Mushroom Soup

This has been a family favorite even before Jim an I were married. My friend Missy and I excitedly shared this recipe with her mom’s friend Caroline. Everyone who we knew that liked mushrooms loved this soup.

For the past 3 decades, this has been the meal Jim has requested for his birthday. Thanks goodness it veganized without a hitch. I still stand by what I originally scrawled across the top of my recipe page – DOUBLE the recipe because everyone will wanted seconds. Below is the (not doubled) veganized recipe. It is great served with a batch of Jimmy B’s Vegan Biscuits.

Oh, and by the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JIM!

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

16 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 C chopped onion
4 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery sticks
3 Tbsp flour
1 C unsweetened coconut milk
1-2 tsp dill
1 Tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 Tbsp tamari
1 tsp salt
2 C stock or water
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 C freshly chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 C soy sour cream (we like Sour Supreme by Tofutti)


Saute the onions in 2 T Earth Balance. Salt the onions lightly. A few minutes later, add the mushrooms, 1 tsp. dill, 1/2 C stock or water, tamari and paprika. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining Earth Balance in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour, and cook whilst whisking for a few minutes. Then add the unsweetened coconut milk. Continue to cook the mixture, stirring frequently, over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until thick. Stir the mushroom mixture and remaining stock into the coconut milk mixture. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Just before serving add the salt, pepper, lemon juice, Sour Supreme and, if desired, extra dill.

Beer Battered Tempeh Sticks

It was a weekend I was focused on building back our probiotic gut flora after one of us was on an antibiotic because of a cracked tooth. Not the most pleasant of weeks, one of us needing to have a tooth pulled but we had a lot of great food to look forward to. I had grand plans of making a great beer battered tempeh sandwich with vegan tartar sauce. I found a great recipe and was excited to buy some kimchi as a side dish.

It was just before this I ran into a bunch of vegans we used to hang with and was pretty much snubbed like we had turned into owners of a puppy-mill. Hey, we are still vegan, we just don’t have 24/7 to sit around and talk or blog about it. We have paying jobs, a family, are avid runners, artists, like to hike, have other hobbies and really, really love to eat our vegan food. We tend to dig in before writing down the recipes we created or taking photos. So, here is a photo and the recipe I tweaked that was really awesome.BeerBatteredTempehStx

So thanks to Vital Vegan for their Beer Battered Tempeh “Fish” Sandwiches with Vegan Tartar Sauce!! Make it, tweak it if you want – it is forgiving (I used capers instead of all olives and some coconut milk yogurt instead of veganaise for more probiotics).

2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards

2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Award

2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Award

Inspired by the many Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs, we took the our main logo and transformed it into a new Hex Sign that will be used as this year’s award.

The year of 2014 has been blessed with vegan food almost being mainstream reflected by many central Pennsylvania’s restaurant menus. This year’s winners are all local, limited to the counties that are touched by the keystone center of our state (illustrated at the bottom of this page.) The 2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards recognize the year’s best vegetarian foods available by highlighting a few menu items from restaurants we have been able to visit. The annual Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards and past winners are described in further detail at this link.

This year, the categories include region’s best Appetizer, Chili, Veggie Burger, Portobello, Soup, Specials, and Vegetarian Restaurant. Extra focus is put on those restaurants that use local ingredients and create as much as possible in-house.

Happy Valley Brewing Company
State College, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014AppHVBC_App_2014Just celebrating it’s first anniversary, Happy Valley Brewing Company takes the award for Best Appetizer for the second year in a row. The Mason Jar again takes this award for the perfect veggie appetizer. Appropriately priced and presented with thematic class, The Mason Jar’s “House Pickled Seasonal Vegetables” are served with a side of locally baked Gemelli crackers. The sweet yet sour brine and the the lightly pickled veggies come out in a short mason jar and frequently reflect the season. Thinly sliced root vegetables are mixed in with a green beans, a couple baby onions and sweet pepper slices that enhance seasoning. The toothsome cracker on the side are great on their own or dipped directly into the pickle juice. It stands exactly as I described in 2013, what an appetizer should be, not a meal on its own but something to get your ready for the quality of the entrees that you can expect. The Mason Jar is great to nibble on with a great beverage but sets you up for wanting to taste more on the menu.

Bullfrog Brewery
Williamsport, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014Chilibullfrog_chili_2014 Unbeaten from 2013 is Bullfrog Brewery for Best Chili this year. Their Habanero Veggie Chili is house made and has enough spice to call it a chili. Another outstanding brew pub in Pennsyltucky, the recipe uses it’s flavorful beer to add a pleasant depth of flavor. I love wandering through the lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans and enjoy the tomato chunks, onions, celery and carrot shreds that balance out the best vegetarian chili in our region. I love it piled on their nachos, sitting atop their Veggie Chili Salad or a nice bowl topped with soy cheese.

Yorkholo Brewing Co.
Mansfield, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014Burger_YorkholoYorkholo_burger_2014It is rare to enter a pub or even diner that now doesn’t have some version of a veggie burger. Many brew pubs are using their spent grain and have really stepped up their house made burgers. This made me have to return for second tastings to at least 3 restaurant. Third year consecutive, Yorkholo Brewing Co. is the best. Their Black Bean and Spent Grain Veggie Burger beat the close second offered by Gamble Mill in Bellefonte. Yorkholo’s burger of black beans, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and onions blended with spent grain, peppers & bread crumbs is still best in all of central Pennsylvania. Congratulations Yorkholo Brewing Co. for streaking this annual award!

Happy Valley Brewing Company
State College, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014PortoHVBC_porto_2014I blanched when I saw that Happy Valley Brewing Company had changed the name of their award winning sandwich. ‘Shroom with a View looked the same on it’s grilled sourdough bread. It is a huge sammich decorated with awesome sprouts and frisée but would the sliced mushrooms still steal the show? I was thrilled, they are still brightly marinated then pleasantly complicated by oregano and grilling with a grounded smokiness. Juicy and firm with grilled tomatoes and with or without the blue cheese aioli, these mushrooms are winners. Again, the Best Portobello I have ever eaten.

The Green Harvest Co.
Bedford, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014SoupGreen_Harvest_soupThis was a difficult year to compare soups because the days I chose to visit certain restaurants they were out of their vegetarian options. I can’t judge what I can’t eat and I do love soup. Pretty consistent in offering vegetarian and frequently vegan soups, The Green Harvest Co. has had many outstanding soups this year. Creamed Butternut Squash was a warm autumn puree, the Asian Soup was a clear broth with mushrooms and great spicing and they had a super Gazpacho this past summer. Knowing just how to get the best out of blending seasonings, grains, beans and veggies in a simple broth can be tricky but The Green Harvest Co. has done it consistently this year.

Otto’s Pub & Brewery
State College, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014SpecialsOttos_Specials_2014Nothing sets my tummy grumbling in anticipation like Wednesday Specials at Otto’s Pub & Brewery. Thier regualr menu has pleanty to offer every day but the vegetarian and vegan specials have stepped up even from years past. The well plated and perfectly prepared Crunchy Vegan Tacos are represented in this photo but it is every single week they have different delights to look forward to. Vegetarian specials of this caliber are found regularly in Philly or New York but that is quite a drive from central PA. I feel really blessed to live close enough to enjoy Wednesday specials at Otto’s Pub & Brewery.

The Seed
Lancaster, PA

BiNaH_Hex_2014Veg1002682_667149683344232_3346396352365255284_nFor the second year running, The Seed again wins the Best Vegetarian Restaurant in central PA!

This worker owned collective is thriving in Lancaster with Pizza and Games night, monthly sandwich specials, live music and progressive cause support. It is a spot where everyone feels welcome, cared for and can get a great, meat-free, meal.

The food is always fresh and well thought out. The sides are always a real treat and the Bahn Mi Chay was wonderful. (I wasn’t able to get photos this year but am representing from the ones I took last year and a couple from their Facebook page.)

The Seed has grown into a solid haven for vegetarians and those who love great food. The truly deserve the Best Vegetarian Restaurant in the central PA.The-Seed

Congratulations to all 2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Award winners! See links below map if you want to be considered for 2015.
PAcoMap_mostDo you know of a Pennsyltucky restaurant or menu item that you think should be considered in 2015? If it’s in central PA (see map above) and is a regular vegetarian menu item, PLEASE let me know and I will include it in the judging next year! Drop me, Pennsyltucky Veggie, a line or feel free to leave a comment on any of the awards pages!

Palm Patties

Using hearts of palm to make a vegan style crab cake has been all the rage this past summer. I haven’t had crab in so long that I have no idea if it was close to the flavor or not so I call mine:

Serves 2

PalmPatties1For Filling

3 tablespoons grape seed or safflower oil, plus more for frying cakes
1 (14 ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and rough chopped to consistency of crab meat
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup vegan mayo
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
For Breading

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

1/2 cup vegan mayo
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon minced garlic

For Sauce

Step one: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste. Set in the fridge to keep cool.
For Palm Patties

1: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the hearts of palm and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until golden brown on all sides. Set aside to cool. Add the celery and peppers and mix well.

2: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-heat heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

3: Remove from the heat, add to the hearts of palm, and mix well. Add the parsley, Old Bay seasoning, mustard and mayo.

4: Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and mix well. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then shape the mixture into 4 ounce round patties. In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and Old Bay seasoning, stirring to mix. Coat the patties with the breadcrumb mixture and place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

5: Heat about 3 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Carefully place the patties in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side, approximately 2 minutes per side. Watch closely to prevent burning. Transfer the cooked patties to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

Serve hot, with Sauce and lemon wedges on the side.PalmPatties2


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