Thank You WP Family!

wordpress-family-awardWell I logged in today to find I’d been nominated for an award by a fellow WordPress blogger who follows my blog.  It’s rewarding just to know that I’ve got a small following, but then to have someone think enough of what I’m doing here to include me on a list of blogs they consider to be their ‘family’ is truly humbling.

I was nominated for the WordPress Family Award, and you can find out more about it here: http://prayingforoneday.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/word-press-family-award/

This is an award for everyone who is part of the “Word Press Family” I start this award on the basis that the WordPress family has taken me in, and showed me love and a caring side only WordPress can. The way people take a second to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition amazes me here. I know I have been given many awards, but I wanted to leave my own legacy on here by creating my own award, as many have done before. This represents “Family” we never meet, but are there for us as family. It is my honour to start this award

Rules:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

3. Nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your wordpress experience and family

4. Let your 10 Family members know you have awarded them

5. That is it. Just please pick 10 people that have taken you as  a friend, and spread the love

I was nominated by milesforthought who blogs about her experiences as a runner and offers everything from fitness tips and inspiration to delicious recipes that make me drool and are very doable. Her articles are always very informative, and though I’m not a runner, her writing inspires me to try to live a healthier, more active lifestyle (for me … I’m not that active, though I should be). I love the fact that she does a lot of research and is all about sharing knowledge and information. While all her posts are ones that I enjoy, my favorite so far is a short one called “Meatless Mondays to Meatless Always.”  To me, this epitomizes Ani’s ability to combine information and inspiration in one seamless package.

There is a growing number of blogs that I’ve come to follow and look forward to reading. If I don’t see something from one for a while, I definitely notice and wonder how things are going. So, here are just 10 of those I consider to be “part of my WordPress family”:

1. Fueled By Vegetables

2. A Lot On your Plate

3. Move Eat Create

4. Violet’s Veg*an e-comics

5. Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen

6. Don’t Switch Off The Light

7. GG’s World

8. My Favourite Pastime

9. A Happy Organic Vegetarian Journey

10. Vegan Flavorista

Many of the above sites have to do with the vegetarian or vegan lifestly, but not all of them do. I tend to love humor and people who are not afraid to ‘put themselves out there’ in terms of honesty and humor. A lot of the above writers have managed to incorporate an amazing talent to cook, take beautiful photos, be informative and humorous all at once.

I appreciate all of the blogs I’ve found on WordPress so far, and I’m really looking forward to meeting many more family members soon!

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Meatless Monday: Crockpot Experiment #1

I’m a little late adding my Meatless Monday post, but wanted to make sure I got it done lest I start to slip!

This photo comes courtesy of http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

This photo comes courtesy of http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

This week’s recipe wasn’t one of my own, but a Pinterest find that I hoped would work … and it did! It was a vegetarian take on the stuffed peppers. It was perfectly satisfying: I always love the chew on wild rice (I used Zatarain’s mix) and the cheesiness was a perfect complement. The blend of spices suggested was perfect. Smoked paprika can be hard to come by (I had to really scour the spice aisle in my grocery store) but I think that if you were to add a little cumin to the blend it would work as well.

To make it vegan, you could easily leave out the cheese and not lose a darn thing. I actually forgot to include the cheese, and sprinkled some over the top about an hour left in the cooking time, and it was all good. Again, though, if it weren’t there, nothing would have been lost in the flavor or texture of this dish.

My kids picked at it, honestly, but I absolutely loved it and am definitely going to make it again. The kids can love the salad and potatoes I served along side it bahahaha!

Here’s the recipe for the smashing vegetarian stuffed peppers that I used this week: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2010/10/slow-cooker-vegetarian-stuffed-bell.html

I’ll be working with a few veggie/vegan crockpot recipes I come across so that I can have a few ready-recipes on hand for when school starts back up again. Next week, I’m planning a crockpot falafel recipe that I found on one of my favorite craft/cooking/crocheting blog sites.

If you have any favorite busy school night/crockpot vegetarian/vegan recipes you can share, let me know! So far I have about three recipes in mind that look good, and fit my criteria (no soups, nothing too spicy and somewhat kid-friendly although I’m not always super concerned about that as I’m a big believer in “try what’s on the table and eat what is served that you don’t totally hate”), but am coming up a bit short.

So, any suggestions you all have would be really appreciated. Thanks!!!

Meatless Monday: Fried Green Tomatoes With Lemon-Dill Dressing

In my sister-in-law’s beautiful garden, there are piles of these gem-like green tomatoes waiting to ripen. I always get excited when I see these, because I hope that my brother-in-law will decide to make his fried green tomatoes. Unfortunately, he … Continue reading

A Call For Crock Pot Recipes!

It’s August and for teachers like myself and my husband, this officially marks the beginning of the end of summer. We’re no longer in 100% vacation mode. Like millions of teachers around the country, in the backs of our minds is a little inner voice nagging: “I gotta get ready for school.”

We are dwelling on lesson plans, changes we need and want to make to our curricula, and getting excited for decorating our classrooms and buying new highlighters and markers with the little bit of summer pay that we have left. At least, I get excited for that part!

My Pinterest feed is littered with classroom planning pins that my friends and co-workers are searching out … and I’ve been looking around for and pinning the same. I’ve also been trying to think a little ahead to what our schedule is going to look like, and what meal-making is going to be like once we’re back to school. Meatless Monday is going to have to be an adventure in making crock-pot meals as my daughter will have ballet class right after school. We’ll be bolting out of the school doors as soon as I can, rushing to her ballet class (a 30-minute drive), I’ll sit and correct papers (or something) in the lobby while she takes her class for an hour and a half, scoop her back up, rush home to arrive around 5 p.m. or so (if I’m lucky), drop my bags, and throw dinner on the table. I’m really not looking forward to this!

I’ve been searching out some veggie/vegan crock-pot meals, and I’m not sure I’m in love with a lot of what I’m finding out there. This is probably because I’m trying to keep my family’s (and my) requirements in mind while I search. They are:

1) No soups. We are not a ‘soup for dinner’ kind of family. I love soups for lunch, but with a growing boy and meat-eating husband, soup just won’t cut it at dinner. Even when paired with bread and salad. Believe me.

2) None of this ‘meat crumbles’ business. That falls into the category of having the highly-processed, mass-produced soy products in my food, which I don’t like. Also, it’s that ‘meatless meat’ thing that I’m not fond of.

3) Nothing too spicy or ‘too exotic.’ My husband and I love curries and lots of spices, by my kids aren’t as big on it. Whatever I find should be kid-friendly (though oddly, they will eat tofu and other Japanese foods … probably because they’re a little more used to that stuff because of my background).

I think that’s it. I’m going to keep hunting and pecking, but I’d really love some ideas for dishes that some of you all have tried and loved!

Test Tube Meat: Thoughts?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2384715/Rise-Frankenburger-Worlds-test-tube-meat-patty-served-London-today.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

So this story came out. I find it a) gross, b) confusing, c) scary.

Gross because … it’s meat in a tube. Confusing because as a vegetarian who loves to eat meat and misses it, I feel like I should be OK with it, but I’m not. Scary because it makes me think of that sci-fi novel “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley and I worry this brings us that much closer to being able to breed humans (and other life forms) in test tubes.

Is it OK to have meat in a tube?

I really do want to know how others, vegetarian or not, feel about this.

What do YOU think?

Rant: Why I’m Vegetarian

Dear Meat-eating friends and family, 

My secret is, that since becoming vegetarian, I haven’t really talked about it openly with anyone outside of my household. Having been vegetarian before, I know what challenges I’m likely to be met with: Individuals who view my decision to not eat meat as a personal affront on their decision TO eat meat; Insulting jokes at my expense told to my face and behind my back; Insults about my food; Challenges about my habits (Oh yeah? But I bet you wear leather!); People eagerly watching me to make a ‘slip’ (“Oh! You said you’re vegetarian but YOU’RE EATING YOGURT! Hypocrite!”)

It’s exhausting to be met with this barrage of scrutiny and criticism. In my own house, I’m lucky to have the loving support of my husband who wants to make sure that when he does cook, that I have an option that will make me happy, and my kids are curious but non-judgmental.

When it comes to the outside world knowing about some of what I do, in this very small, VERY rural, conservative area, it’s hard to openly ‘be me.’ The other day, though, I took a step outward. Boy, did the consequences of that decision come quickly and furiously!

At my mother-in-law’s house, hubby slapped a couple of steaks and chicken breasts onto the grill. I popped on one of my veggie burgers. My nephew went to turn the food over several minutes later, saw my veggie patty and snorted “What is this? Dog food?”

“That’s my home-made veggie patty,” I explained.

He snorted and made a couple more derisive comments. I ignored them and moved on.

June and July 2011 122A few moments later, my son asked what we were having for dinner. We told him steaks and chicken breast. “I don’t want meat,” he declared. He’s always been very borderline vegetarian anyway and has never cared much for meat beyond, to my dismay, McDonald’s hamburgers and bacon. When I jokingly told him in front of everyone that he’s “vegetarian like me!” (my way of light-heartedly coming out), all the in-laws swooped in to do their social conditioning thing (“Oh no, meat’s healthy, he’s growing so fast he needs meat,” etc.) Then, someone did the whole “Oh, you’re vegetarian, but I bet you wear leather!” bit.

Outwardly, I just smiled and nodded. Inside there was an angry sailor swearing at them, shaking his fist and threatening to blow them away with a cannon.

Here’s the thing I feel I need to scream out to everyone who makes an ignorant joke about what it means to be vegetarian or vegan: I’m vegetarian because there is enough damn suffering in this world.

I honestly don’t see how anyone who takes a look a the facts can continue to buy into a system that is destroying our planet. In terms of the environment, in terms of health, meat-eating is killing us. All you have to do is a little looking around online and there are scads of statistics that prove this fact.

Also, as someone who follows many of the tenets of Buddhism, it really has become impossible for me to ‘live mindfully’ and continue to buy into a system that perpetuates suffering on so many different levels. It’s not just about the animals. It’s the environment, it’s my health, and it’s the fact that we know now how to live without meat and be perfectly healthy … so why cling to the status quo? Because it’s what we know? Because it’s comfortable? To what end???

It angers me that people have time to look through junk on YouTube, Tumblr, FaceBook, StumbleUpon, and Pinterest, but they “don’t have time” to take a fraction of their free time to look through some facts that directly affect them. It’s like they don’t want to know that PETA isn’t the only organization that knows that animal farming is hurting our environment and our health. Any governmental, non-profit oriented, neutral sources you look at all say the same thing: Animal farming pollutes land, water and contributes to the destruction of many acres of forest a day. Farming animals for the consumption of meat is not sustainable on any level. Impact of this pollution on humans is not known. That’s not the same as “nonexistent,” yet the public very much wants to just toss that to the side and pretend that all is well. For Dog Sweater 094

“We can’t research everything,” we say. “We can’t sit here and read articles and look at stuff about what’s happening to the planet. What am I supposed to do, research EVERYTHING?” (I know these excuses because I’ve used them too).

No, but you do sit there and go through your Buzzfeed, don’t you? You look up babies eating lemons for the first time, and people who have no business recording themselves dancing doing just that, and we are happy to point and laugh at them, relieved that who is in the video is not ourselves.

Why remain ignorantly blissful? What is the point of that?

I’m not saying take away all your free time to do serious thinking. Certainly and without doubt, we all need some time to tune out and shut down. I do, too. That being said, with a little effort made, you can easily find out how much rain forest is cut down every year to make room for cattle raised for beef. You can find out how much pollution (it’s not only a little, by the way) is created by waste created by these animals, the machinery needed to keep them going, from the slaughtering, and from packing and shipping. You can also find out who is offering biased information on these facts, and who is not.

Instead of Googling “Baby eating lemons for the first time,” Google “waste created by animal farming.” I did, and here are a few quick links from varying sources, ranging from the EPA to other “dot-org” sites:

http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm

http://www.epa.gov/region9/animalwaste/problem.html

http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/ffarms.asp

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5726

I came up with those links in 30 seconds. I read enough of their articles to know that I’m right in what I’m saying. Read. Look. Listen. THINK.

Then come back and tell me you think my choice is silly. Or that my food looks like dog food. Or that you love your meat. Or that you think I’m exaggerating and that I’m a conspiracy-theorist.

Clump O TreesMy question to those who accept things as they are is this: If you know that what is happening in our world is causing these issues, why are you choosing to make choices that perpetuate this cycle? What is the point of THAT?

If you believe that you alone can’t make a difference by simply making a change in your diet, consider the fact that half of the vegetarian foods that we know and enjoy now, were relatively unknown when I was vegetarian just 15 years ago. Those people who thought they were striking out as vegetarians and vegans alone weren’t lonely for long. There’s a reason for that: Not eating meat is starting to make more sense.

And by the way, my being vegetarian isn’t my statement against YOU. It’s my statement against a culture that continually tells us to numb our brains, dull our senses, kill our bodies, our planet, and our animals. It’s my statement against a system that brain-washes us to sustain our bodies and our lifestyles in an unsustainable way. It’s not just about not being cruel to animals. It’s about our planet and how we, as humans, choose to live our lives in the short time we have on it.

If nothing else, watch this video. It illustrates wonderfully the idea that everything, everyone, is connected. It shows us that our choices matter, how we spend our time makes a difference, where we put our dollars makes a big difference, and what we THINK ABOUT makes a difference too.

I found this video on BuzzFeed, among the drivel about how adorable my pet cat is:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/copyranter/the-most-powerful-ads-of-the-world-wildlife-fund?sub=2470282_1428319