Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We've moved to a different blog!

Hey guys! We've moved to a different blog!

You can find the blog at

Why the change?

Well, "How to become a vegan domestic goddess" was just too long a blog name. I've been wanting to change it since forever and now I have. Oh and now that I think about it, it kinda sounds pretentious. I still don't think that I'm a domestic goddess. And if I do claim domestic goddess-ness, I give you permission to hit me on the head.

Why kitchen activist?

This is actually what I call myself because I'm a vegan who loves to tinker around in the kitchen. I think the simple act of choosing veganism means you are choosing compassion for animals. You are standing against the animal agriculture industries. You choose not to support animal cruelty.

Anyway, see you 'round !

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vegan MoFo fail + news shmews

Hey Vegan MoFo'ers, sorry for my embarrassing Vega MoFo performance. Nine MoFo's is really sad. But I have a good excuse. I was busy all October trying to help victims of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. So things got busy. Which is too bad, because I wanted to blog about awesome things, like:

My lentil and quinoa Sunday lunch, which Francis seemed to like.

Vegan food activism in the office which you can definitely do at least once a year or when it's your birthday and your coworkers require you to feed them. In this case, it's a farfalle and black bean salad which I believe knocked their omni socks off.

Being vegan in Hong Kong, which was hecka easy.

And other non-MoFo topics, like despedida food!

Despedida meal #1 at Healthy Kitchen in Serendra; featured: fresh Thai spring rolls.

Despedida meal #2 at Som's, Rockwell; featured: Pad Thai.

Despedida dinner at home with the family; featured: tomato and aubergine linguini.

Why despedida? Well I temporarily closed up my baking shop and resigned from my real job because I'm gonna be away from home for at least half a year... I'm going to culinary school in New York! Which is another reason why I've been neglecting this blog -- I have been busy with work, baking and getting ready for school. I'm excited for this new adventure because I can't wait to seriously hit the culinary scene.

Watch out Manila, I'm gonna set you on vegan fire!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gorgeous grilled vegetable sandwich: Vegan MoFo #9

This will be a quick post as the photo speaks for itself. Had a lovely brunch with my 2 lovely cousins, Miren and Monica, and my brother's girlfriend, Bea at Cafe Mary Grace in Alabang Town Center. We came for the chica session but I gotta say, this vegetable sandwich somehow stole the show.

Hey vegans! Cafe Mary Grace may not have a lot of vegetarian breakfast / brunch options but don't feel sad. Grilled vegetables on foccacia was some kind of awesome. It's usually served with caesar dressing inside but tell your server to kindly substitute the dressing with the tomato-wansoy salsa. The salsa is actually one of the fillings of one of their omni sandwiches. If your server doesn't seem to relent, just ask for Glen - he was our server who was only too happy to follow my vegan wishes.

The homemade potato chips is usually served with garlic mayo -- go ahead and sub it for the salsa, but do yourself a favor and just get good old-fashioned ketchup. It's hard to scoop salsa with tiny chips.

What made this sandwich gorgeous? Uber-smoky eggplant and balsamic-glazed oyster mushrooms. Cafe Mary Grace usually adds in grilled zucchini but with the whole Typhoon Pepeng catastrophe, it's been difficult to get fresh vegetables from Benguet. They ended up doubling the eggplant -- no complaints from this customer! I heart eggplant, I can eat it all day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For vegans who miss puchero: Vegan MoFo #8

Holy crapparoni, I’ve missed 2 days of MoFo’ing. I gotta get my ass into shape…

What I’d like to share today is a vegan version of another childhood favorite: puchero.

I think this dish is something every Filipino family has its own version of. Puchero actually came from Mexican and South American cuisine. It arrived in the Philippines via Spain and I guess, puchero is one good thing we can thank our colonizers / slavemasters of 300 years for.

Puchero, Spanish for “stewpot”, comes from Argentina, Uruguay, and Spain. According to Wikipedia, the
preparation and ingredients of the dish vary by region. Spain particularly likes chickpeas while Argentina and Uruguay like theirs meat-based. Puchero is usually made up of a soup of meat and vegetables.

Here in the Philippines we use chicken, beef, cabbage, baguio pechay / Chinese cabbage, and potatoes. We also like having boiled saba / cooking bananas served on the side. For families who can trace their roots to Spain (fun trivia, on my paternal grandfather’s side we get our Spanish blood from a friar), we like adding chorizo / pork sausage and chickpeas. I believe puchero is usually eaten as a hearty soup but for those with Spanish influences, we like ours soup on the side, meat and veggies served separately, and with rice.

I fondly remember the Sunday puchero tradition upheld in my family. We usually chop up the meat and veggies and mix it with rice, tomato sauce, olive oil, and vinegar in a huge wooden bowl. Each of us had an assignment, whether it’s chopping the meat, or the veggies, or pouring the sauce. My dad usually added the final touch, whether it was a splash of vinegar or a dash of salt. It was a family affair and it was so satisfying to sit down and eat the fruits of our labor.

When my brother Michael and I turned vegan, we no longer joined in this tradition. We missed the family food preparation. When everyone else
would enjoy the puchero, we would have some completely different vegan meal.

Last Sunday we had puchero for lunch and for the first time we were able to enjoy a ve
gan puchero! It felt completely familiar at once and incredibly satisfying to eat. We missed our puchero. For our version we cooked our vegetables (cabbage and baguio pechay) and saba bananas in gently boiling water until tender. Chickpeas, usually an afterthought, became one of the main stars of the dish. We cooked ours in garlic, onions, tomatoes, salt and pepper.

And I confess, I missed chorizo – or rather, the smoky saltiness it imparts. Luckily I had a stash of homemade vegan chorizo (off Isa’s Vegan Brunch cookbook) in the freezer. I threw in a couple of chorizos in a sautee pan with about 1 inch of water and simmered them until tender. I then sliced the sausages in half, and then in quarters diagonally. So as not to throw out the now flavorful cooking liquid, I sautéed some sliced onions in it with a splash of olive oil until tender. After setting the onions aside, I added another glug of olive oil in the same pan and fried up the chorizos.

Eating puchero after years of no puchero was… nothing short of amazing. We didn’t have the time to slice up the chorizo and veggies and mix it up with chickpeas, rice, tomato sauce, olive oil and vinegar like our family usually does but it was rewarding just the same. I got bits of everything and couldn’t even fit rice onto my plate.

If you come from a family that regularly eats a meat-based puchero – you can have your puchero veganified! So to summarize:
  1. Cook vegetables and saba bananas separately from the meat.
  2. Gussy up your chickpeas – cook them with garlic, onions, and tomatoes.
  3. Fry up your favorite vegan chorizo, either store bought or homemade. Check out Julie’s Spicy Italian Sausages, they’re a good substitute.
  4. The puchero seasonings – tomato sauce (cooked with garlic and onions), olive oil, and vinegar – are already naturally vegan!
  5. Mix everything together and dig in!

Monday, October 12, 2009

String beans that will make you sing: Vegan MoFo #7

You've probably grown up having your own fair share of sucky vegetables. You know what I'm talking about -- vegetables steamed, blanched or boiled to flavorless oblivion, sometimes sauteed in grease and some bits of animal protein, often discolored from too much cooking. Blech.

The humble string bean (here at home, known as the Baguio Bean) is almost always the sad victim of under- or overcooking. I quite frankly detest steamed or blanched string beans because they're just so... boring. Eating blanched string beans feels like a chore. This is why omnivores are omninivores and not herbivores.

I love string beans, they're one of my favorite vegetables. They're dirt cheap and easy to cook so they taste awesome. And and and, if you've got a party and want to serve your guests a non-salad vegetable, string beans are the way to go.

Beans before being stuck in the oven, and they already look lovely.

My favorite way to cook beans? Roast 'em. Lay them on one layer on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil, sprinkle on a good dose of sea salt and black pepper, that's it. No need for some fancy spice blend, leave that for carrots and potatoes. Pure heaven. I can eat these all day.

They usually cook for 20 minutes in a 400 deg F oven, but I like mine quite toasty so I leave them in for an extra 10 minutes. Heck, just eyeball it. Just make sure they don't turn too yellow-green.

Definitely make them garlicky by topping the beans with a smashed garlic / olive oil / salt / pepper mixture before sticking them into the oven. The garlic should be well lubricated in oil so it doesn't burn.

String bean love!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Vegan birthday dinner 2 - a photo essay: Vegan MoFo #6

Best birthday dinner, especially when you didn't have to lift a finger to make it or have to clarify a hundred times that it's vegan.
Thanks mom.

Samosas from Assad's Mini Mart on Jupiter St., Makati

Lumpiang Macau: friend spring rolls stuffed with seasoned shredded tofu,
served with sweet and sour sauce.

Japchae: Korean glass noodles with vegetables topped with toasted sesame seeds,
spring onions, and sauce (sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar)

Fried tofu slabs to go with the Japchae.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A well-loved dessert from my childhood: Vegan MoFo #5

Oh mais con hielo, how I've missed thee. I haven't tasted your icy corny goodness in years. How I've longed for your juicy kernels, your crunchy shaved ice, your sweet surrender, your ability to cool this humid tropical weather -- but alas, you are almost always served with dairy evaporated milk. For shame, for shame. It's a good thing mother took me literally when I said I wanted you, and only you veganified, for my birthday dessert. No birthday cake for me, heavens no. And you taste just as good, if not better, with coconut milk. You don't need cow's milk to make you all creamy and lovely. You just need a good dose of creamy non-dairy milk and a healthy serving of sugar (and in my case, brown) to sweeten you up.

While I only had you 2 nights ago, I do hope we see each other very, very soon. I can't wait until our next rendezvous.

Vegan birthday lunch with the parents: Vegan MoFo #4

Ugh, it's just one of those days where you bake til 1am and you wanna take a bath but you're too tired to get off the chair...

So yesterday was my official birthday and the parents were nice enough to take me out to lunch in Power Plant Mall in Rockwell. Lucky for me, Power Plant has a few good restaurants with vegan options. One of my favorite restaurants there is Wild Ginger, which I've mentioned before in this post. It's not a fancy schmancy restaurant, it just has a good selection of Filipino, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Indian food.

First up: fresh Vietnamese spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce. It was good, not great. If only they added purple basil or cilantro inside the roll. The roll contained vermicelli noodles, lettuce, cucumber, and carrot.

Spicy tofu peanut salad. This is one salad that did not suck. Very few leaves, lots of fresh bean sprouts, julienned cucumber and jicama, fried tofu, and cilantro in a spicy peanut dressing.

One of my favorite sandwiches: spinach and dal chapati. This time it came with curry sauce on the side. This is usually served with yogurt sauce, so tell your server you want a coconut milk-based curry sauce.

And, the highlight of my lunch! Back story: I haven't had ice cream since January and I've been dying to get my hands on some. I made the mistake once of ordering a vanilla soy milkshake from Chimara in Greenbelt. People, please don't waste your money on Chimara soy anything, it is not good. This is the kind of stuff omnivores make fun of vegans for. I once tried their strawberry ice cream, blech!

I was told that a certain Italian restaurant named Pazzo served vegan gelato. The sad thing is, Pazzo is right in Power Plant, in the Rockwell Center where I work. And for the 2 years I've been working for my company, not once did I try Pazzo's gelato. I deprived myself of ice cream for 10 months for NOTHING.

Pazzo didn't have vegan gelato yesterday but they did have sorbet, which was naturally vegan, IN A WHOLE ARRAY OF FLAVORS. Strawberry, lychee, watermelon, lemon, limoncello and lovely tropical flavors such as calamansi, guava, and pomelo.

I got to taste pretty much all the available sorbet flavors and I ended up choosing a scoop each of lemon and pomelo. It sure was nice to taste some icy, fruity goodness.

Good lunch :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Feast Day, Vegans! + a vegan birthday dinner + bodacious birthday apple cobbler: Vegan MoFo #3

Belated Happy World Animal Day, guys!

Hey vegans, it’s our Feast Day too! Yesterday was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), the Patron Saint of animals and the environment. Since becoming vegetarian, St. Francis has become my favorite saint; so favorite, I named my third cat after him.

Bear with me for a few paragraphs! I’m lifting this straight from the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on St. Francis. He truly was an amazing person. Omnivores and vegetarians alike could all learn a thing or two from this man:

‘The very animals found in Francis a tender friend and protector; thus we find him pleading with the people of Gubbio to feed the fierce wolf that had ravished their flocks, because through hunger "Brother Wolf" had done this wrong.

‘And the early legends have left us many an idyllic picture of how beasts and birds alike susceptible to the charm of Francis's gentle ways, entered into loving companionship with him; how the hunted leveret sought to attract his notice; how the half-frozen bees crawled towards him in the winter to be fed; how the wild falcon fluttered around him; how the nightingale sang with him in sweetest content in the ilex grove at the Carceri, and how his "little brethren the birds" listened so devoutly to his sermon by the roadside near Bevagna that Francis chided himself for not having thought of preaching to them before [as pictured up there].

‘Francis's love of nature also stands out in bold relief in the world he moved in. He delighted to commune with the wild flowers, the crystal spring, and the friendly fire, and to greet the sun as it rose upon the fair Umbrian vale. In this respect, indeed, St. Francis's "gift of sympathy" seems to have been wider even than St. Paul's, for we find no evidence in the great Apostle of a love for nature or for animals.’

According to legend, on his deathbed St. Francis thanked his donkey for carrying and helping him throughout his life and his donkey wept (okay I got this from Wikipedia).


Anyway, on to MoFo’ing. My birthday comes right after St. Francis’s feast day, I don’t know why I wasn’t named Francesca, or Frances, or Francine, or whatever derivative you can think of. I am not so big on naming my future children after Saints, but Francis I wouldn’t mind :)

I was so set on blogging about the completely vegan dinner I had last night with family in Corner Tree Café (same guys who buy my cupcakes; a vegan-friendly, vegetarian restaurant) but man, I gotta be quick on my toes with the photographing. For appetizers, we had:

This awesome starter plate of fresh vegetable sticks (cucumber, jicama, carrots) “on the rocks”, chunks of crusty wholewheat bread, white bean hummus, olive oil, and dukka – an Egyptian sesame-seed-and-spice blend.

Wholewheat breadsticks with marinated herbed olives. Not a huge olive fan, my family seemed to like it, but I thought it was way overpriced. They gave us only 2 breadsticks.

And an organic green salad with carrots, beets, and walnuts in a lemon-mustard dressing.

I’m not a big fan of sugary drinks (I wouldn’t mind fresh buko juice or calamansi juice) but I ordered this lemongrass iced tea. It was different, a good kind! Lemongrass-y and gingery.

This is where I stopped taking photos because my 18-month old nephew got hold of my camera. We were also pretty much starving and dug in right away when the servers brought out the food.

We also had the tomato and bread soup, which was nice and chunky.

Our entrees include:
  1. North African vegetable stew with couscous. Flavorful, almost curry-like without the coconut milk but not heavy on the tummy at all. Corner Tree used “gentler”, less heavy spices.
  2. Vegetable koftas in tomato sauce. Just like Italian meatballs except the koftas were a bit more tender.
  3. Tofu-walnut burgers topped with crispy onions with a side of gravy. This was a winner for Michael, my vegan brother. Last time I was here I ordered mine in a whole-wheat bun, this time this was served platter-style, with a side of red rice.
  4. Spaghettini with broccoli, pine nuts, and lemon. This dish was flavorful thanks to the lemony goodness.
  5. Kare-kare na gulay. A Filipino peanut stew of vegetables (leafy greens and mushrooms). Omnivores usually eat this with bagoong or fermented shrimp paste. This was served with vegetarian bagoong made from tausi, aka fermented black beans (a typical Chinese condiment). I didn’t get to taste this dish but my dad said it was good.
Corner Tree Cafe (Vegetarian Food)
Francesca Mabanta
150 Jupiter Street Bel-Air, Makati, Metro Manila
(632) 897-0295

NB: They are closed on Mondays.


So this was the second time in a row that I had to make my own birthday dessert, but I didn’t mind! I made a super quickie, seriously thrown-together apple cobbler from The Joy of Vegan Baking. I swear, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is my hero! I love her piecrust-making methods, I’ll never make pies a different way again.

From start to finish including baking, it took me about an hour and fifteen minutes to make this cobbler – but I had help with the peeling and coring of apples. I was set on making a strawberry cobbler with frozen strawberries but I couldn’t find the right recipe (most needed fresh berries). Luckily I had some Fuji apples so I made an apple cobbler instead.

Er, apologies for the crap photo… someone’s little hands smudged up the camera.

Fruit-based desserts are definitely tastier than any other kind, in my book. I don’t want to brag (well it wasn’t my recipe to begin with) but everyone loved it :) Will definitely make this again, especially since it was a no-brainer. Seriously, please make this.

Colleen’s recipe is super easy to follow, it’s like the apple pie for lazy people or for people who are still iffy in the piecrust-making department. Some notes on apple cobbler-making:
  1. The recipe called for an 8- or 9-inch baking pan but I chose to use an 8x10 glass pan because the cobbler had to serve 14 people.
  2. If you’re doing the 8x10 glass pan, I highly recommend adding an additional half recipe of the cobbler dough just so you get enough spread on top.
  3. The recipe called for 5 cups of tart apples, I used 5 sweet Fuji apples. I’m not a fan of tart fruity desserts, sorry. The apples amounted to more than 5 cups = no problem. No need to adjust the sugar mixture you combine with it.
  4. I’m not a fan of white sugar either. Definitely substitute washed / raw sugar. If you don’t have that on hand, then use a 50-50 mixture of white and brown to ease up on the empty calories.
  5. No margarine? No problem. Use unbleached coconut oil. Coconut oil smells amazing and lends a good round “fatty flavor” to the dough. I can’t explain it better, just that coconut oil is awesome. I bought mine from Tindahang Sakto .
  6. I brought the cobbler from the oven to the restaurant. If you’re transporting a dish that came straight from the oven, I highly recommend you cover the dish with foil and place it on a wooden tray with a thick layer of newspaper for protection. Don’t use a plastic tray! I even added a dish towel between the dish and the newspaper.
Not a bad birthday so far.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A salad that doesn't suck for vegans: Vegan MoFo #2

Edited to add: I just reread this entry and man oh man did I have a lot of grammatical errors. That's what you get when you blog at 3am...

I know there are vegans out there who
LOOOOOVE their salads. Some eat one at least once a day. Sorry guys, I'm not one of you. Quite frankly I detest salads. If I'm in a very veg-unfriendly restaurant I'm usually served a couple of leaves with tomatoes, onion, and store-bought dressing. I've been vegetarian for almost 2 years now (anniv on October 8, woohoo!) and in that span I've had a couple of really bad salads.

There must be wrong with chefs out there. For some reason they think that vegetarians would be perfectly happy with a salad that was unethusiastically put together. So, no actual edible vegetarian food on menus except for the boring salad. The sad thing is, salads can be lovely to look at and to eat -- no restauranteur wants to invest in them because they'd rather focus on the meat.

Don't get me wrong, there will be times when I would enjoy a salad as long as the salad is interesting. I love my salads with lots of color and lots of vegetables. I'm not a big fan of the leaves but of the concept of a hearty mixture of veggies.

I made this salad back in September but never got around to blog about it. But check out the picture. Now, wouldn't you want to consume it? I've never come across a salad that interesting in this country. If you have, do let me know, I'd want to check the restaurant out.

What a salad should have so it doesn't suck:
  1. Color. Even the salad greens shouldn't be all green. Check out the varieties with purple leaves. Raise your hand if you hate iceburg lettuce. Add reds with tomatoes, orange with carrots, yellow with peppers, purple with eggplant and Thai basil.
  2. Texture. An all leaf salad is just that, all leaves. Add crunch with bell pepers, carrots and jicama, tenderness with roasted eggplant, juiciness with tomatoes.
  3. Flavor. Leaves have a fresh taste, but you can add even more freshness with bell peppers. Any baked vegetable gives it smokiness too, such as roasted peppers or eggplant.
  4. Herbs. They aren't just for sauces or marinades. Herbs really play up the gourmet factor for cheaps. I added dill in mine, and the large bundle I bought from the grocery store that day was P6!!! I also like lots of parsley, basil, cilantro / wansoy, tarragon.
  5. A good vinaigrette. I get tired of vinegar + oil dressings with no thought given to their flavor. Add herbs to your dressing to make it more flavorful. I like thyme with lemon, cilantro with lime. I've tried dill with balsamic vinegar, not a bad combination. Play up the acid! There are so many vinegars out there that isnt' your regular red balsamic. I've tried white balsamic and it's fruitier and less acidic than the red. Kalamansi is great for tropic salads. Mix in some fruit in the dressing such as mango. Adding jam to your dressing also tones done the acidity. Try some ideas here and here.
  6. Wildcard ingredient. Make your salad definitely not boring with toasted nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit (I love apples, mango, and suha / pommelo in salads), beans (flavored with dressing).
If you're an omnivore / restauranteur and reading this, give your vegetarian friend / customer a break and make her a salad that doesn't suck.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vegan MoFo is upon us! Vegan friendly relief good items: Vegan MoFo #1

Hey bloggers and readers! Last year I blogged every weekday of October in celebration of Vegan MoFo, or Vegan Month of Food. I had a blast and it really gave me the push I needed to be a frequent blogger.

What's Vegan MoFo, you ask? I quote from The Post Punk Kitchen's website:
"The idea is to write as much as you can for the month of October about vegan food. The blog entries can be about anything food related - your love of tongs, your top secret tofu pressing techniques, the first time your mom cooked vegan for you, vegan options in Timbuktu - you get the idea. There is no strict guideline for how much you have to write, but we shoot for about 20 times a month, or every weekday."

Vegan MoFo is a blog event celebrated around the world in celebration and promotion of vegan food. If you're a local reader, excuse me when I sound like I'm talking to the international community.

I would have loved to start off MoFo #1 with something home-cooked or home-baked but maybe this post will be something completely different from what other Vegan MoFo bloggers would blog about. If you haven't heard the news, my beloved country, the Philippines, was hit by massive Typhoon Ondoy over last weekend, leaving 80% of Metro Manila completely flooded and half a million people displaced. I believe the death toll is 246, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Floods have reached over 10 feet high and they have not receded in some areas. People say that Ondoy is worse than Hurricane Katrina.

The great thing about the Filipino spirit is that we want to help out in any way we can. To be a Filipino in this state of calamity means giving your all for your fellow countrymen. No dependence on the government for us, nosiree (that's a whole different rant). Everyone has and is chipping in -- whether it's through donating relief goods, cash, or time to volunteer at packing centers or evacuation centers. Classes have been called off for the week and even the kids are helping out.

Flood refugees are in immediate need of food, and fast. The usual food care package a refugee and his/her family receive is composed of rice, canned goods (usually sardines, corned beef, and / or luncheon meat), instant noodles, and water. I'm not about to get on my high horse and say they shouldn't be eating meat. When you've lost your home and are struggling to survive and get your life on track, you definitely don't have the luxury of choosing what goes in your mouth.

But if you're someone who wants to donate to disaster victims and would like to give something different, let me enlighten you: give something vegan.
Not only are vegan items more nutritious than their meat counterpart, they give you more bang for your buck.

Here are some food ideas one can donate to a refugee's care package:
  1. Rice -- always a staple grain in Filipino cuisine and something that easily fills you up. White rice is of course more preferable, as it cooks more quickly than the brown or red varieties.
  2. Mongo beans -- this local legume is absolutely cheaper than meat and has a long shelf life. It's a good source of protein and fiber, which canned meat lacks. Best to get cracked mongo beans so they cook quicker. True, dried mongo beans need to be cooked and not all victims have access to cooking utensils, a makeshift stove, and drinking water for that matter. Perhaps soup kitchens that are popping up everyone should consider making mongo guisado over arroz caldo with chicken. Cheaper, more nutritious.
  3. Canned beans -- beans in tomato sauce are usually available in most supermarkets and there are always the kind packed in salted water. True, beans-in-water isn't as tasty as anything floating in sauce, but when you're a refugee, I'd think you'd take whatever you can get. Oh and, these are cheaper than canned meat.
  4. Crackers -- something that also fills you up cheaply. I am partial to the regular Skyflakes kind because it doesn't have milk (their wholewheat is not vegan).
  5. Peanut butter -- who doesn't love peanut butter, aside from those allergic to it? My favorite brand is Lily's because it doesn't contain additional oil and high fructose corn syrup. Made from local peanuts too, so you support local peanut farmers. Peanut butter is a quick source of protein, fat, and fiber, and easily goes with crackers and bread which are cheap. I've actually once eaten rice with peanut butter once, when I didn't have access to more palatable vegan food. Not the worst thing.
  6. Bread -- I like Olsen's over Gardenia because [a] it's cheaper, [b] it's vegan, and [c] it doesn't have an ingredients list that requires you to major in Chemistry.
  7. Soymilk -- I know I know, some brands are pretty expensive, but I love the brand Soyfresh because it's in the same price line as cow's milk. Aside from 1-liter tetra packs, Soyfresh comes in individual-sized drink boxes. Something for the kids, who need as much calcium as they can get.
  8. Sugar -- Most refugee parents would like to get sugar in their care packages because they mix this with water and feed it to their kids. I can't pull up a site right now but I think it's got something to do with dextrose. Or even blood sugar. Not only is brown sugar "healthier" than white, it's cheaper too.
  9. last but not the least... Water.
I hope this post enlightened you.

Hey international readers!
If you'd like to help us out, please visit Google's site on Help for Typhoon Ondoy victims. Scroll down to "credit card / paypal donations" if you'd like to make a monetary donation. Scroll down to "US-based drop off points" if you'd like to make a donation in kind. Sorry, I don't see any other drop off point for other countries. You can check Google's site frequently for updates. What's urgent right now is monetary donations because these will reach us faster.

If you're wandering what's happening to the non-human flood victims, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society is spearheading rescue efforts in Marikina, one of the most devastated cities in the metro. They currently have 16 animal refugees. More information on and pictures of the flood rescues here. Anyone can also drop off their pets in the PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center here, while he/she attends to his/her survival. If you would like to make a monetary donation, view their instructions here. If you prefer in kind, view instructions here. Find out what they really need here. For the international readers, best to donate money.


Best effort to do a Vegan MoFo post every weekday in October but given that we're in a state of calamity, I'll do my best :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Birthday buko pie

Happy happy birthday to Michael, my awesome brother who turned vegan the same time I did and has been my animal-rights fighting buddy ever since. I can honestly say that vegan life would've been more difficult if not for him. He was the only vegan I knew for the longest time (until the vegans started coming out of hibernation when they heard about my bakery) and the person I'd rant to when I'd get angry about an AR-related issue. He also convinced me to adopt our cats when I was still hesitant about keeping pets.

Here he is with my mom, my 2 other brothers Gabriel and Antonio, and the birthday pie I made for him: buko pie. Ever since my triumph with my first vegan pie, I've been dying to make buko pie.

Buko pie is one of those Filipino desserts that is usually not vegan and something that I've missed eating. Usually the pie crust is made with butter or dairy margarine, or it's got eggwash brushed on top, or the filling's made with milk. Michael requested buko pie for his birthday instead of traditional cake, and so I went on a mission to make my first buko pie.

Quick lesson: buko is the young version of coconut. While the coconut looks like a hard ball of brown hair, buko is a hard green ball. The coconut's meat is used to make coconut milk while buko meat is softer and is used fresh in fruit salad or other Pinoy icy desserts. Also, it's from the buko that we get one of the best juices in the world: buko juice.

I immediately turned to my mom's favorite cookbook when it comes to all things Filipino: Let's cook with Nora, by Nora V. Daza, the Julia Child of the Philippines. As you can see in the photo it's been well used. A lot of the newsprint pages have been splattered with sauces and the book cover had to be wrapped in plastic because it was in a serious state of disintegration. My mom bought this in 1996 for a whopping P85. For the foreigners out there, according to this site the peso was around P26.25 to the US dollar in September '96, so the cookbook would've costed a whopping US$3.24! I believe this edition was the 1969 edition with retro drawings of the dishes.

The recipe was easily veganizable. Actually I'm surprised that buko pie isn't naturally vegan. The recipe for the pie filling called for buko meat, sugar, coconut water (aka buko juice), cornstarch, and evaporated milk. Why do people insist on using cow's milk when making a coconut dessert? What's wrong with coconut milk?

I made the 10" pie crust from The Joy of Vegan Baking (you can use VeganYumYum's pie crust recipe here). The buko pie filling recipe was for an 8" pie so I just added 1/4 more of the ingredients.

You can buy buko meat and buko juice from your local coconut purveyor, usually found in markets /
palengke. I bought mine from the market in BF, Paranaque, along Palanca St. for P17 per buko. The coconut guys sell both adult coconuts and bukos -- fresh as they hack open the fruits right in front of you. For this recipe, just ask your coconut guy for the juice and meat of 3 bukos. Get the meat as a whole, don't get it slivered up. While waiting for them to prepare your order, enjoy a glass of buko juice.

Buko pie
adapted from Let's Cook with Nora by Nora V. Daza

1 prepared 10" pie crust (top and bottom)

2 1/4 c. buko meat, sliced into chunks
3/4 c. + 3 tbsp. raw sugar
1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. buko juice
1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. coconut milk
1/3 c. + 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. cornstarch

Preheat your oven to 400 deg F.

Place the buko meat and sugar in a medium saucepan. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the cornstarch, buko juice, and coconut milk together. Add the cornstarch mixture to saucepan.

Heat the pan on medium heat and cook, stirring continuously until thick. The consistency of the mixture should be like thick gravy. Add the mixture into the prepared crust and top it with top crust. Crimp the edges with your fingers or with the tines of a fork. Make slits on the top (or use a fondant cutter to make cute holes like I did).

Bake the pie for 30-45 min or until golden brown. Cool the pie in room temperature for several hours, then place in the refrigerator to cool down further. The pie is best served cold.

Notes on making buko pie:
  1. If you want a pie with more "bite", get your buko meat malakanin. This is thicker than the usual mala-uhog type, which is softer and better suited for buko salad.
  2. Keep the buko meat and buko juice in the refrigerator at all times!
  3. I used canned coconut milk -- in fact I think I used light coconut milk. If you want a richer pie, feel free to use regular coconut milk or even coconut cream. If you're feeling domestic, why not make your own coconut milk?
  4. I used raw sugar to keep things white-sugar free, but feel free to use white sugar. This pie isn't super sweet so it's perfect for people who aren't into desserts. If you'd like a sweeter pie, you can increase the sugar to 1 to 1 1/4 c.
  5. The proportions of the ingredients was 1 + 1/4 of the recipe in the cookbook. The pie could actually use more filling, so if you want a meatier pie, try these proportions: 2 1/2 c. buko slivers, 1 c. + 1 tbsp. raw sugar, 3/4 c. buko juice, 3/4 c. coconut milk, and 1/3 c. + 2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. cornstarch.
Happy pie making!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A day for the animals, a hearty Indian-ish dinner, an attempt at homemade vegan cheese

A day for the animals

Photos by my coworker, Jeanette Mactal

So I finally got to visit the PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center in Quezon City 2 Saturdays ago with a couple of coworkers, bringing gifts of food for the shelter dogs and cats. After the feeding activity, Anna Cabrera, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society Program Director, gave us an orientation and tour of the facilities. Let me just tell you, WOW. It's really amazing what PAWS does to help the plight of Pinoy dogs and cats, also known as askals (street dogs) and puskals (street cats). The place was brimming with 36 dogs and 184 cats (as of September 5), all looking for their forever homes. The feline quarantine area was full of days and weeks old kittens. The canine quarantine area had its own fair share of sadness. The guy up there was rescued from the dog meat trade. A lot of them were abused and abandoned by their former owners. The rehabilitation PARC gives them is amazing. It's really different when you're sitting pretty at work and at home with theoretical veganism, and when you see animal cruelty staring at you literally in the face. Hearing their rescue and rehab stories truly is a testament to the philosophy of living compassion and non-violence in one's life.

Anyway, the day-for-the-animals was made complete when my vegan brother (who tagged along at this office volunteer activity) and I stopped for awesome practically-fast food veggie burgers at Good Burger in Pasig, across Tiendesitas. It's sooo nice to be able to eat vegan fast food! Good Burger sells veggie burgers with the option to remove non-vegan items, such as mayo and cheese. They also sell chicken burgers, which is insane... I mean, I would think meat eaters would go for beef rather than chicken when it comes to burgers. I seriously doubt their chicken burgers were any good... Oh, and after the Good Burger lunch, my brother and I spent the afternoon making:

vegan Italian sausages
Julie Hasson's Spicy Italian Sausages, recipe here.

Excellent excellent day. We hung out with the shelter dogs and cats, scarfed down veggie burgers, and made a ton of veggie sausages.

Indian-ish dinner
On the Tuesday after the PARC visit (2 Tuesdays ago), it was so nice to sit down and have a hot hearty meal after a grueling day at the office. I was supposed to ride home with my brother on that day but it was pretty traffic from his office to mine -- he ended up arriving at my workplace at around 7:30. So we headed to the nearby mall, specifically Powerplant, for a satisfying dinner at a restaurant, particularly Wild Ginger.

Asian tomato soupdal and spinach chapati sandwich

Wild Ginger is one of the few restaurants in Powerplant that has good vegan options, and I'm not even talking about tomato sauce + noodles. They have legumes! I've eaten there several times but it was my first time to try their dal and spinach chapati sandwich, which was really good. I call it an Indian-ish dinner because I'm not certain Indians would use 2 chapatis to make a sandwich. It looked more like a no-cheese quesadilla. It usually comes with a yogurt dip which is easily do-withoutable. It was topped with basil, but I think it would've been better if topped with cilantro. The cumin and (I think) coriander really shone, and the dal wasn't dry at all.

I also had the Asian tomato soup -- awesome as well. It was flavored with lemongrass, a pleasant surprise, chili, and cilantro.

Soup and sandwich -- such a Western meal, yet it was Indian.

An attempt at homemade vegan cheese

homemade vegan mozzarella
Eek, I know, what a crap looking photo.

With the success at making vegan sausages under my belt, I decided to venture out and make my first vegan cheese. "Mostarella", to be exact, from the pages of The Uncheese Cookbook. I'm glad that it doesn't taste like dairy cheese. It has cheese-like qualities -- it's savoury, slightly sour, and it melts. The sourness can be attributed to my addition of tahini and a combination of lemon and calamansi juice. I'm glad I finally experimented, although the results were just alright. I guess I don't miss cheese that much that I'd want to scarf down the fake stuff. It is a nice alternative topping on toast, which I usually have it on in accompaniment to a bowl of beans for breakfast. It actually does spectularly in vegan lasagna, together with Veganomicon's tofu ricotta. By the way, that tofu ricotta is pretty good stuff in Italian-inspired dishes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Shelter dogs and cats deserve your love too

Nothing much up in veganland, I'm just really excited to visited the PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center, or PARC this Saturday with some officemates. For all my vegan exclamations I have not yet set foot in an animal shelter. One day I hope to put one up near where I live, but it sure is a vocation that needs a lot of dedication, hardwork, and of course, money. A farm animal sanctuary would be heaven too... I live in Southern Manila and PARC is all the way in the north -- one of the reasons why I haven't been to a shelter. While the country is brimming full of unwanted dogs and cats, we only have pretty much 1 shelter (does anyone else know of a shelter?).

Just wanted to blog about that bit... Now if you're thinking of buying a pet, I highly encourage that you think of all the unwanted dogs and cats for a moment. These all deserve a good home just as much as that pet you're about to buy. Only that by adopting a shelter dog or cat, you're doing both of yourselves a favor. Buying a pet kills a shelter animal people, please believe me. You buy a pet, a shelter animal wallows away. Another reason why sometimes I feel like I'm about to explode when people can't understand this concept and decide to buy anyway... Or God forbid, have their female pets get pregnant and sell the babies...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Open mouth, insert foot: confessions, justifications and apologies from an animal lover.

Would you adopt me even if I didn't have a pedigree?

Okay, I will confess. Since becoming vegan, I have become more judgmental and less forgiving. Sometimes I’ll be cold if you say something I find insensitive that pisses me off more than before. With all my how-dare-you’s, I’ve had to do a lot of I’m-sorry’s. I know, blowing up at people is the best thing to get you to the vegan side! But hear me out loud please.

Before I became vegetarian in October 2007, I lived in a man-centric world where everything was meant for our pleasure. Food made from cow reproductive secretions? Yum! Skinned lambs on our backs? Bring it on. Mascara tested on bunny eyes? As long as it makes me look like I actually have eyelashes, I’ll buy it. And yes, I used to not like animals. I’ve had pet chicks and a rabbit which I bought from a school fair. Yes they all died.

I lived in a world so convenient for me, I was like Neo before he found out about the Matrix. Ignorance was indeed bliss. And then through some careful research, the veil was lifted, my paradigm shifted, and I learned all the shit happening to animals everywhere. It was pure torture. Heart ache. I’d cry watching the undercover videos. I couldn’t handle the truth, partly because it went against everything I was taught in life. Sometimes I wish I would go back to my pre-vegan days for the convenience thing. It sure was a lot easier when I didn't have to check if the bread I was buying contained whey and that the cute winter coat had no wool.

And then I think of myself (haha, still on the [wo]man-centric thing). Would I want to live in a cage my whole life, have all sorts of crap put in my eyes just to make sure someone else wouldn’t suffer what I had to suffer? Or, how would I feel being raped and impregnated over and over again, just to have my baby ripped from my arms and having machines suck my nipples to get my milk to “more deserving” people? For those who didn’t know, cows have to be pregnant and give birth in order to be milked. I can’t imagine it and I’d hate those lives. I’d surely kill myself before being killed.

I will always remember April 30 as the day Lucky came into my life. He’s my first cat and despite his I’m-too-cool-to-pay-attention-to-you attitude, I love him and my other 2 cats, all rescues, to death. Some people (namely my family) think I’m crazy because I hug them and kiss them and yes, talk to them. Everyday. I will brave dengue-carrying mosquitoes to go to their cat house to scoop out the poop from their litter (sadly my cats no longer live in my home as my mom is convinced my youngest brother is “allergic” to them). I will even weather a storm to bring towels to them in the middle of the night to make sure they’re warm. One of them needs antibiotics? I’ll give it in a syringe and say that “you’re such a brave, brave cat.”

That’s just the tip of my iceberg craziness, people. When Lucky was 2-3 weeks old my dad stepped on him (yes Pop, you’ll never hear the end of it!) and he looked like a mangled pirate kitten. His legs were broken. He could not poop on his own (actually, all kittens need help in the crapper). It was summer and my 3 younger brothers and I took turns monitoring him 24 hours a day. My shift was between 5am and 7am. One morning I was massaging his butt with a moist cotton ball to try to coax the poop out. He ended up squirting shit on my hand, and some on my shirt. And here was this one-eye-swollen-shut kitty struggling to get away from me and my poopy hands with his useless legs, and all I could do was laugh and clean up. What fun cats bring, and I'm not even being sarcastic.

Believe it or not, animals can bring us humans a lot of joy. In fact, you don’t need to be vegan to learn this truth. If you’ve got a pet at home, and I’m assuming you’re a pretty loving owner, you know what I’m talking about. Pets don’t care if you’re getting fat or your hair’s seen better days. Even if you accidentally forget to leave them food in the morning, they. Will. Always. Come. Back. To. You. Because yup, sure we’re taught they aren’t rational beings, but how can irrational beings have unconditional love for us? Here’s another question: how is a purebred cat any different from a cat from the street, other than its color?

So what am I getting to? I’ve been vegan for almost 2 years and yes, aside from the food and no-leather, no-stuff-experimented-on-animals thing, I have changed. Knowing what I know now, I’d like to think I’ve changed for the better. Yes, I am the crazy vegan lady who is often insensitive and is almost always the party pooper when it comes to “I love foie gras!”, “I want a labradoodle!”, "I just want my cat to experience the joy of kitten birth!" exclamations. Yes, if you ask me “If you’re stuck on a desert island with a lion, would you eat it?”, maybe I will eat YOU. And we’ve ALL heard about the vegetables-scream-when-you-eat-them joke, harharhar. We’ve never heard THAT one before. Or how about, “If you’re so much against animals being abused, why do you have cats and why don’t you let them roam free?”

It’s been more difficult for me to be more patient, because sometimes I forget that people don’t know or don’t want to know the truth about the plight of abused farm animals, pet overpopulation caused by our breeding of dogs and cats, horrors of vivisection, what goes on in a fur farm and egg farm, etc etc. Which is why, a lot of the times my responses to animal-related questions may sound condescending, bitchy, and downright icy enough to make you sound like the enemy. Which is why I would like to sincerely apologize to readers of this blog who I may have accidentally alienated with my answers regarding your questions related to animals and animal rights. Maybe you were just really curious and didn’t mean any harm. Sorry guys.

I’d just like to make a point though, with regards to pets. Yes I have my cats and I am not against having pets. I have them partly for selfish reasons, partly because the other option was for them to become road kill, and partly as a symbolic promise to all animals that I will help them in any capacity that I can.

I am, however, against the purchase of animals for pets and am fully supportive of adoption. Our country, no this world, is TEEMING with millions of dogs and cats who just want a home and a loving human companion. These guys didn’t just pop out of nowhere, we bred them into existence. They’re not coyotes and tigers, they are animals domesticated by us over hundreds of thousands of years. And then when we feel too tired to take care of them, we let them “go free”. Or, sometimes we just chain them up and forget to feed them, whatever floats our boat. Sometimes we’ll shout at them when they piss on themselves because we’re too busy to take them out to exercise and do their toilet business. We complain when our female cats get pregnant because, who wants to take care of kittens? Let’s not spay her, oh no that’s too expensive. Let’s just stick her babies in plastic bags and drown them. We also looove to rant about all the street dogs and cats that populate our communities, and sometimes, we secretly love to run over the slow ones who don’t manage to run across the road as we step on the gas. Maybe if you had an opportunity, you’d shoot that tomcat that just loves to stroll around your garden. Who gives a shit, right? They’re not humans.

So next time I answer really snarkily, I’m really sorry and I hope you’ll forgive me. Please remember that I don’t meant to attack you, I’m just thinking of all the poor animals out there that are abused and unloved. Sometimes I forget to think before I talk, I end up being an ass and I stick my foot in my mouth. No hard feelings, okay?

To readers out there – I’d like to ask you a question. Do you often find yourself short tempered when it comes to asinine-sounding questions? How do you manage your temper and your mouth? To the vegetarians and vegans out there, how do you deal with your pent-up emotions about the animals, and how do you make sure you don’t come out as the crazy vegan?

Would you want my life?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Where to get your vegan cupcake fix in Manila + rant on Jupiter cr Nicanor traffic guys

chai latte cupcakes
These chai latte cupcakes will make you sing.

If you're craving for tasty, moist cupcakes that promise that no animals were harmed in their creation AND don't taste like sawdust, but you're kinda broke to buy a whole box from you-know-who, then please, step into Corner Tree Cafe on Jupiter Street in Makati.

Corner Tree Cafe's Specials: vegan cupcakes!

That's right folks! I'm so pleased to blog that for the past few weeks, I've been supplying fabulous tasting cupcakes to this quaint vegetarian restaurant that is very vegan-friendly. It helps that the dishes are inexpensive and the place is easily accessible to both Northern and Southern Manilenyos alike.

I was very fortunate to come across this opportunity when my good friend Pet and I had dinner here one Friday night. I had heard much about the restaurant from co-vegans and was encouraged to try their tofu-walnut burger and lemony brocolli pasta. After dinner, Chiqui the owner went up to me and introduced herself. Pet told her that I was vegan and that I made vegan cupcakes. She was the one I sent a sample box of cupcakes to mentioned in this post!

Corner Tree Cafe's Specials: vegan cupcakes!

Lucky for me she liked 'em, and now I supply 'em. The usual available flavors this establishment orders include those in the picture and red velvet cupcakes. Who knows, maybe they'll order the other flavors.

Just a heads up!

Corner Tree Cafe

Corner Tree Cafe (Vegetarian Food)
Francesca Mabanta
150 Jupiter Street Bel-Air, Makati, Metro Manila
Cell: Chiqui +63917-8481004 or Leah +63916-6149927

NB: Corner Tree is closed on Mondays.

If after eating in Corner Tree you decide to get out of Jupiter St. via Buendia, I highly recommend you watch out for those traffic guys in yellow that are just begging to catch you run the light when you turn left into Nicanor. I delivered some cupcakes to Corner Tree last Saturday and I almost got a ticket. I almost cried too, because Saturday just wasn't my day -- I had rushed making an apple pie beforehand and I was running late to Ateneo to watch a play. Anyway, the guy told me I ran a red light when I distinctly saw it was green. Apparently you had to wait for the green arrow to light up before turning left. I cordially argued with him and I even got down from my car and we walked to the light. I showed him that the arrow was not in fact red, that the arrow never lit up. I emerged unscathed and un-ticketed. Those fuckers caught a ton of cars "running the red arrow" when there was no red arrow! I told the guy that maybe he can tell his boss to put a sign on the traffic lightpost so drivers can follow the law more accordingly, or to have the light fixed so that the red light would light up. He just told me to go to the MMDA to file my complaint. He probably thought he'd get a bribe out of me, well tough! May they rot in the humid heat while trying to catch innocent motorists who run the non-existent red arrow.
Related Posts with Thumbnails