About once a week some friends and I take turns hosting each other for dinner. We aptly call it “Monday Night Dinner.” Some of our most stand-out dishes include Alaskan salmon, pho with thinly sliced beef, and most recently, steak and cheesy potatoes. So when it was my turn to host during my vegan challenge, I was pretty nervous. I almost hoped my friends would forget I was forsaking meat and cheese and I could just trick them into thinking this was just like any other meal. They all came in with their vegan jokes, however, so I knew I wasn’t going to be pulling any wool over any eyes.
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than with a vegan earth day cake? View the full Earth Day post here.
One week in and the vegan diet has been treating me well. I unintentionally dropped three pounds, not necessarily due to not eating any cheese, but because I stopped snacking on junk food or doing late-night fridge raids. While my body has been responding well, my sub-conscious has developed a snide side I never knew existed. I feel like I’m constantly thinking of and being reminded of all the food I’m not allowed to eat. It’s like someone gave me a coloring book, but took away more than half the crayons. Grocery shopping has been a little more exhausting because I have to read the ingredients of everything. It took me 20 minutes to find a loaf of bread I could eat as well as afford. Why do I have to pay twice as much for fake sour cream?
I decided that during my 30-day challenge I was going to be a strict vegan when it comes to food (winter is almost over and I’m taking full advantage of my leather boots before I put them back in storage), so I decided to go as far down as bee’s honey. I got off my brew pub job early today so stuck around to order a new Braggot ale we have on tap, which is a hybrid of beer and mead. My careful co-worker reminded me that the beer was made with honey, and then continued with the idea that since yeast is technically “alive”, some vegans don’t consider it on their animal-free menu. She had me on the honey, but I draw the line at yeast!
It all started with movie night at home. I decided to forego my usual cheesy chick flick or horror cult classic (don’t ask) and choose something more educational, or in this case “vegucational” because I went with the documentary, Vegucated. The movie follows three New York City omnivores through a six-week vegan challenge. I did end up getting a mix of my favorite movie genres: there were plenty of gory images, literally involving chicks. Less
than 30 minutes in I was sobbing and calling my mother, blubbering, “Did you know what they do to cute baby pigs? I’ll never eat bacon again!” Her immediate response was, “Turn it off.” So I did, but it only takes a spark to light a fire, right?
|“Gourmet, Meatless, and Delicious!”|
I reconstructed the 3D logo out of Red Hots, Lemonheads, marshmallows, and chocolate chips. The best part: it was completely edible because I used agave nectar as glue.
Ah, St. Patrick’s Day: the best illegal holiday in the country! By illegal, I mean that it is not nationally recognized as a legal holiday in the U.S. You would think after more than 300 years of celebrating, we could at least get the day off work or school. No matter, it hasn’t and never will stop us from donning green and observing our Irish heritage if it’s part of our lineage, or just adopting an Irish background for the day. I think you could argue St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest celebrations in American culture, spanning over several days and including countless festivals and parades. Even with that being said, I’m not sure the majority of Americans know how the green day came to be, and who this so-called St. Patrick really is.
St. Patrick is undoubtedly one of the most widely recognized saints in the world, always connected to Ireland. Before he became a saint, he was Italian born in the country of Scotland. Unfortunately, he didn’t travel to Ireland by choice with the dreams of entering sainthood. He was actually kidnapped as a teenager and brought to Ireland as a slave until he escaped back to his Scottish home in his early 20s. After becoming a cleric and having a vision to serve the Irish people, he returned to Ireland and the rest is history.
|“Irish hot dog”|
|Healthy Shepherd’s Pie|
|…and my most recent (2013), but certainly not the last.|
|My first Guinness (2004)…|
My younger brother Drew is an aspiring chef. I think for at least the last decade the kitchen has been Drew’s domain. Last year, at the age of 17, he published a calendar with beautiful pictures of some of his favorite creations, accompanied by recipe cards. He’s amazing, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my little brother. If I was stranded on an island and could only bring one thing, I’d bring him because we could quote Monty Python over some creative feast made out of coconuts and fish. “Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?” (Direct quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)
Yesterday marked the final day of the 12th annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festival in Nederland, CO. It’s a weekend-long celebration incorporating coffin races, snowy “beach” volleyball, an icy polar plunge, hearse parade, and frozen salmon tossing. I unfortunately got a late start to the icy festivities on Sunday due to some ice cold drinking festivities late Saturday night (oops!), but I did manage to catch a glimpse of some ice turkey bowling. Participants were sliding a giant frozen turkey down a snowy lane with hopes of achieving a 10-pin strike. It gave a whole new meaning to the bowling term “turkey” meaning three strikes in a row (which actually comes from the late 19th century when bowlers would be prized with a live turkey for the three-strike scoring feat).
So, why is it called Frozen Dead Guy Days? Get ready for some Bizarre History 101. The festival commemorates Grandpa Bredo, a Norwegian outdoorsman who would be 109 years old today had he not died of a heart condition in 1989. Because of Bredo’s family’s strong advocacy for cryonics, and their dream of starting an “ice preservation facility” (to put it nicely) of their own one day, Grandpa was packed in dry ice soon after his passing and shipped off to California. After four years of a liquid nitrogen bath, he was off to his current home: his grandson’s shed in the beautiful mountain town of Nederland, CO. Sadly, his family was deported back to Norway in the 90’s, but Grandpa Bredo is still well-preserved and cared for thanks to his personal caretaker “Iceman”, and the local and international support that comes from the memorial festival.
Even though yesterday was a chilly 30-degrees, the festival was a hotspot. Two packed tents set the backdrop with persistent live music. There were tons of sweater-clad dogs, flamboyant costumes, and dead-guy painted faces. I, of course, was anxious to scope out the festival food. While I did find the densest of deep-dish pizzas, marshmallow-cereal treats the size of bricks, and hot sausages smothered in cheese and sauerkraut, the fodder wasn’t the star of the show. I think that award goes to the local beer and live music. Several Colorado brews were in attendance and the crowd alone was a testament to the musicians’ popularity. The aura surrounding the tiny town was incredible. Everyone seemed perfectly content to stand in the cold with each other. It was almost ironic how visible our breath was when we were there to remember a frozen dead guy. The festival is called the Frozen Dead Guy Days, but it’s really saying, “We’re still alive, so let’s celebrate!”