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.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A mention in Philippine Daily Inquirer's Sunday Magazine :)

Nothing much up in vegan land today, except...

I got featured in last Sunday's Philippine Daily Inquirer's Sunday Magazine!

For those not familiar with PDI, it's the top newspaper in the country. I didn't know it came out until one of my good friends sent me a text congratulating me. Of course I ran down to the breakfast table and took a look for myself. I felt so guiddy :)

That Sunday I got a lot of texts, some emails, a lot of invites to be my contact in Multiply. It felt really nice for strangers to inquire about vegan baked goods. Finally, vegan baking is being recognized by national media!!!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Apple pie and black eyed peas and cats, oh my!

Today (Saturday) was one swelteringly humid day(probably 30 deg C or +90 deg F in the kitchen!), but that didn't stop me from baking my first vegan pie. Quite frankly I get intimidated with pies... I am not good at making crusts. The last time I made a pie was 2 years ago for my mom's birthday -- a (non vegan) apple pie. I hated rolling the dough on our kitchen counter because the dough would almost always stick on the surface.

But can you believe I haven't had pie in 8 months? And before that, about a year and a couple of months? Yeah, if I craved pie, I'd have to make it myself (ditto with cake, cookies, or cupcakes)...

So I did just that today. At first I was looking at Lauren Ulm's blueberry hand pies, but I was thinking, maybe I should stick to traditional pies (also, where the heck would you find blueberries in this country?). Then I spotted her mini apple pies, then I remembered Colleen Patrick Goudreau had an apple pie recipe in her cookbook, The Joy of Vegan Baking. That pretty much sealed the deal.

vegan pie crustapple pie, pre-baked (vegan)apple pie (vegan)

Colleen's instructions for her flaky pie crust were extremely easy to follow. I was a bit apprehensive about pie-making today because of the heat, but her tip to freeze everything -- the margarine, shortening, and flour -- helped mixing the dough a breeze. There's a 1-hr waiting period between mixing the dough and rolling it out into a crust, which was perfect because I was able to run errands and buy some apples. Her cookbook called for refrigerating the dough for 1 hour but I ended up freezing mine. If you live in a tropical country, you'll know that freezing dough makes more sense than refrigerating it.

Then came the hard part: rolling it out. I cheated and lined my kitchen counter with my Silpats, which helped immensely (I know I know, I'm a fake baker!). I suppose you can roll it out on plastic wrap or wax paper. And wow, how easy it was to transfer the rolled out dough from Silpats to pie dish! I may just make pies more frequently now.

apples for my apple pie
Diced apples with lemon juice, raw sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.

Colleen's recipe was super easy to follow and before I knew it, I had a pie baking in the oven. What excitement! What joy! I was so giddy. Unfortunately I stuck the pie in the oven at around 6pm and it didn't make it in time for dessert -- the recipe recommends letting the pie cool for 3-4 hours, to let the juices thicken. Actually this waiting process was a blessing in disguise... My family is having lunch out tomorrow for my dad's birthday, and he absolutely adores apple pie. So right now I can't say for sure how good the pie tastes like, except that it looks pretty good. Nevermind that the crust looks *slightly* brown -- so I tried to healthify it by using raw sugar instead of brown, big deal. The recipe called for sprinkling the top of the crust with a cinnamon-sugar mixture (I had to cover the pie in foil half-way through baking to avoid even more burntness). Here's to hoping it tastes as awesome as it looks.

PS I never used to crimp the edges of my pie crusts, I'd always just press the tines of a fork in the edges to seal them. I truly feel like a domestic goddess with the whole crimping action :)

vegan pie crustapple pie, pre-baked (vegan)apple pie, vegan


So after sticking the pie in the oven, I was left with an extra peeled apple. Let me tell you that refrigerators (yes we have 2 - the vegan and the omni. Three, if you count the one sitting in my garage, unplugged and unused) in my house don't bode well for little bits of leftovers. Leftovers often get shoved into our refrigerators, never to be seen or heard of again until we go around hunting for extra food containers (because we almost always run out of food containers with all the leftovers being shoved in the fridges -- what a vicious cycle!) and unearth food with fuzz.

I ended up sticking the extra apple in a black eyed pea spiced stew my brother and I were having for dinner (before you gag, read on!). We had a leftover container of this black eyed pea-tomato sauce mixture which didn't really have much taste... It had no spices (except for chili) or herbs whatsoever, only the usual garlic and onions. I decided to throw in a teaspoon of cumin seeds in a skillet of hot oil, sautee some slivered onion and sliced apples, add a dash of smoked paprika, oregano, and cinnamon, then mix in the black eyed pea mixture along with chopped cilantro. Oh and I added in the juice of half a lemon, whose other half I used for the apple pie (I am a total leftover saver!).

apple and black eyed pea spiced stew
An apple and black eyed pea spiced stew = yum!

What a fortunate fortunate discovery -- the apples did not weird the dish out at all! For some reason the sweetness of the apples tempered the spices, especially the cumin. I can't say for sure how long I cooked the dish, because I just winged it. The apples weren't mushy -- they were softened a bit yet crisp. So, tip: apples go well in spiced bean stews.


Just some gratuitous pictures of the babies:

lucky, taking a stroll
Poor poor Lucky, the little man has had fever for over a week and seems to be recovering. Last Saturday night I found a lump (!!! I thought it was a cyst!) in the left side of his throat which turned out to be an infected wound that turned into some sort of boil. The vet said he may've gotten bitten by another cat :( Unfortunately for us, the cats can't stay indoors because my mom believes that my youngest brother (who is fond of the cats himself) is allergic to them. We've built a nice cattery for them in the garden and I let them explore the garden during the day. Often times they meet stray cats, and believe me this country is brimming with stray cats. Lucky's on antibiotics for 2 weeks (now on his 2nd week) and we had to spread some ointment on his lump to speed up the healing process. He's had a fever for a week which made him pretty lethargic and sleepy most days. Today he decided to venture into the garden and disappear for the whole afternoon. As I put him back in the cattery I found out that he has another lump, this time in the right side of his throat :( Will have to consult the vet again tomorrow morning.

velma, trying to keep her cool
The little lady herself, who used to be healthier than Lucky, isn't in tip top shape either! Last Thursday night as I cuddled her, I smelled this awful sewer-like smell seeping from the top of her head. As I laid her down I felt my hands were wet and smelled like the sewer. Lo and behold, her bum leg was seriously infected. Apparently, since she doesn't use the paw on the bum leg, her thumb nail had grown so long and grew back into her paw. It caused a nasty infection, which spread onto her bum leg and her chest, causing her fur to fall out! In addition to the ingrown nail was rain getting stuck in her fur -- whenever her chest and bum leg would get wet, they wouldn't dry off properly because of the way she folds her leg over her chest. The vet was able to cut out the ingrown nail and prescribed an anti-bacterial cream to be spread on her leg and chest 2-3 times a day for a week, and antibiotics for 2 weeks. Included with the drugs is this cone she has to wear around her neck so she won't lick off the cream. Oh and, whenever it rains she's not allowed out :(

francis, hanging out
And Francis Boy over here is the healthiest of them all. This little guy hasn't experienced any sickness or complication whatsoever. Francis loves hanging out in the garden, meowing for attention and getting his ears rubbed by us. He absolutely hates being picked up. Sometimes he can be such a dear dear pet, always begging to be loved, but when he knows you want to put him back in the cattery, he runs for his life and disappears up the mango tree. I guess you can say he's the most streetsmart of 'em all because he loves climbing trees and fences and going into our neighbors' gardens, with nary a scrape or wound on him. He grooms himself quite splendidly and I'm sure he's aware he's one good looking cat.

francis, dagger eyes 2008francis, dagger eyes

The picture on the left is of little Francis as a baby, when we newly rescued him. This was taken in October 2008 and I'm guestimating that he's about a year old now. If you look at the pictures on the left (then) and the right (now), he still has the same dagger-eyes expression! Despite his fierce appearance, he is the sweetest, most lovable cat there is. He is almost like a dog in the sense that he doesn't look down on his human, as most cats do :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stuff I've been doing + a duck photo

Sorry blog, I neglected you once again. Here's what I've been up to since my last post:

Chocolate cupcake and almond rosewater cupcake.

Tinkering around with rose-inspired frosting designs. I've been spying cupcakes frosted to look like roses 'round Flickr and it's been driving me crazy. I really couldn't figure out how those bakers did it! After a few experiments I finally broke the code. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a super baker's secret, but what the hell. You basically use a 5-point star tip, start frosting from the center and work your way out. So simple yet so stunning.

vegan burger
Missing old childhood food. I don't miss the dead animal flesh mind you, I just miss the familiarity of eating a burger sandwich, using an actual bun, filled with ketchup and mustard. I took this photo about 2 months ago and uploaded it in Flickr 3 weeks ago. As of this post it's received 99 views. Hmmm. I guess vegans do miss familiar food. This is a burger bun filled with 3 vegan burger patties, a couple of lettuce leaves, and a good dose of mango vinaigrette. I know, not conventional, but it went pretty well. The vinaigrette was a version of this recipe but with cane vinegar subbing for the calamansi juice and olive oil subbing for the sesame oil. The burger patties are a version of Vegan with a Vengeance's.

6 flavors o' vegan cupcakes
Promoting vegan cupcakes to mainstream media. I sent a box of these cupcakes to a well known local food magazine for a pictorial. They actually found me on Multiply! So so tickled. Anyway, the magazine edition with the cupcakes should come out sometime in the 4th quarter. This box has 6 flavors.

Top, L-R: red velvet, chai latte, lemony.
Bottom, L-R: banoffee, carrot cake, almond rosewater.

I sent the same box to a vegetarian restaurant in the Makati CBD called Corner Tree Cafe. They seem to like 'em, they've been ordering every week for their customers. If any of you readers are around Jupiter St. in Makati, hit up Corner Tree Cafe! It's near Aristocrat.

(I also sent another box of cupcakes to a lifestyle magazine targeted to Southern Manilenyos, not pictured. Well received too!)

vegan cupcake pyramids
Cupcake-catering for my lolo's / grandfather's 95th birthday party. My dad asked me to make cupcakes for giveaways for guests. In the span of 7-8 hours I was able to come up with 100+ cupcakes, packaged in these beautiful silver cardboard-plastic boxes. They looked smashing, if I do say so myself. I just cringe when I think about the amount of waste these generated. I hate using plastic...

Anyway, here are some closeups:

Red velvet cupcakes.

Banoffee cupcakes. Banana cupcakes topped with coffee buttercream and shaved dark chocolate.

Lemony cupcakes.

I can't resist some cupcake porn:

red velvet cupcake
Closeup of a red velvet cupcake.

I'm really loving the foil cupcake liners. They're pretty costly but they look so professional. They go really well with the silver boxes, and they don't absorb moisture from the cake (vs. paper liners). I like that they hide cupcake batter spills too!

I also can't resist a gratuitous photo of cute animals:
ducks crossing
I found these guys trying to cross a major road in my village as I was heading out to Sunday lunch. I quickly snapped a photo of them before herding them back to the creek from whence they came. I'm glad to report that no one got hurt! Motorists actually halted for these cuties.

That's about it, so I've been quite busy. Hopefully my next post won't be too far off.
Related Posts with Thumbnails