Roasted Cauliflower Soup

It’s a rainy day, which means I’m craving soup for lunch. I had cauliflower soup from encuentro restaurant in Oakland a few months ago. encuentro is a wine bar and cafe owned by the owners of Millennium restaurant, one of the most highly regarded vegetarian restaurants in the world. This little cafe features delectable organic and vegan wines (not all of them are though) and amazing small plates. Since my visit, I have been dying to recreate the cauliflower soup.

I found this recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Soup from Veg News online via The Chubby Vegan and tweaked it a bit. I didn’t have any potatoes on hand, so I used a Tokyo turnip which gave it a pinkish tinge. I also used leeks instead of onions and threw it all in the Vitamix (all hail), skipping the putting it on the stove part. With some vegan cornbread on the side, it made a mighty fine and filling lunch.

Butterball’s cruelty to turkeys exposed

Today animal protection organization Mercy for Animals released the results of its latest undercover investigation, this time of a Butterball turkey factory farm in North Carolina. This investigation, like every previous investigation released on a factory farm, revealed horrific cruelty to animals.

Factory farmed turkeys, unlike their wild counterparts, are bred for quick growth. They grow so large, so quickly that their legs often can’t even withstand the weight of their own bodies. Some suffer crippling leg disorders, others die an early death from a heart attack. To pay for veterinary treatment would exceed these animals’ deemed worth, so birds who are injured or ill are usually left to die slow, painful deaths.

In addition to this type of routine negligence, workers also deliberately handled the animals at this factory farm violently, kicking, stomping on, and throwing them. According to Mercy For Animals, some of the undercover footage taken at Butterball documented:

• Workers violently kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their fragile wings and necks, and maliciously throwing turkeys onto the ground or into transport trucks in full view of company management;

• Employees bashing in the heads of live birds with metal bars, leaving many to slowly suffer and die from their injuries;

• Turkeys covered in flies, living in their own waste, unable to access food or water and suffering from severe feather loss and necrotic (dead) muscles and skin;

• Birds suffering from serious untreated illnesses and injuries, including open sores, infections, rotting eyes, and broken bones; and

• Severely injured turkeys, unable to stand up or walk, left to die without any veterinary care, because treating sick or injured birds was too costly and time consuming, as the farm manager explained to MFA’s investigator.

Law enforcement in Hoke County, North Carolina has reportedly raided the facility and opened an investigation.

The exposé by Mercy For Animals comes at a critical time. Hidden camera investigations done by animal protection groups and other whistleblowers offer a window into factory farming that most people would otherwise not access. They have resulted in animal cruelty charges, corporate policy changes, and food recalls—keeping unsafe foods out of our nation’s supply chain.

Rather than voluntary industry-wide reforms to improve animal welfare and food safety, big ag is fighting back by trying to criminalize taking undercover investigative footage on factory farms. Four such “ag gag” bills – in Minnesota, Florida, New York, and Iowa – were introduced in 2011 and summarily died. These laws were meant to impose criminal penalties for anyone creating audio or visual recordings of agricultural operations. Not only could the individuals responsible for taking the footage be prosecuted, but the bills were also written to impose criminal penalties upon any media that transmitted the footage. Florida Senator Jim Norman has reintroduced such a bill in Florida for the next legislative session.

Such tactics are thinly veiled: rather than changing practices that most Americans are opposed to, like cramming hens in tiny cages, breeding pigs in crates so small they can’t even turn around, or performing routine mutilations on animals without a drop of painkiller, the industry wants to shoot the messenger. We all deserve to know where our food comes from and whether we support the types of conditions in which it is produced.

With one day left to donate in 2011, I highly encourage individuals who care about animals to support Mercy For Animals. The organization continuously comes through for animals, pulling back the curtain on their abusers and getting real results.

Meals Ready to Eat

I never understood the Stouffer’s lasagna phenomenon. I mean, if you’re going to bake it for ninety minutes, why not make it yourself? Making dinner in advance though, I get. I recently hosted an after work get together that ended up being on the heels of an overnight trip just hours after getting home from the airport. I made tofu spinach lasagna a few days prior, froze it, and then baked it when I got home.

Made with no-boil noodles, it can be assembled in minutes. I crushed two cloves of garlic and sauteed it with a package of Lightlife Smart Ground, then layered that in for extra flavor and protein. It was topped off with shredded Follow Your Heart vegan cheese. You can make it days in advance, freeze it, then bake it while you clean up and prep for your guests. It’s delicious, healthy, and filling. And I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate lasagna.

What are some of your favorite meals to prepare in advance?

Christmas cookies galore and more

Like many people, I spent yesterday baking and making a special vegan Christmas Eve dinner. I can’t think of a more fun way to spend Christmas Eve than with my apron on, a glass of Silk nog in one hand, and the oven keeping the kitchen warm. Here’s a quick rundown:

Peanut Butter Cookies, from Joy of Vegan Baking

Gingerbread cookies, from Joy of Vegan Baking

Not to settle for just ordinary cookies, gingerbread soy ice cream sandwiches

And for our special holiday meal, we enjoyed Salisbury seitan from the Real Food Daily cookbook. The Salisbury seitan is one of RFD’s trademark dishes. The seitan is like none other I’ve tried. It’s baked in a loaf and almost bread-like in its consistency. When marinated with the Salisbury marinade and baked for 15 minutes, the marinade forms a rich crust. Topped with gravy, it melts in your mouth.

Wishing you and your families a wonderful holiday and hoping for peace and justice for all beings.

For goodness bake

Nothing says the holidays like homemade baked goods. On cold, lazy days, there’s no better way to warm up the kitchen than by baking sweets you can share with friends and loved ones.

Cinnamon rolls seem complicated at first glance, as do most things involving yeast. There’s the rising and the kneading and the rising. That’s where a bread machine comes in handy. Bread machines are far more versatile than making just bread. I’m a big fan of the dough cycle. It’s helped me make rolls, breadsticks, bagels, focaccia, pizza and calzone dough galore, and on this fine morning, cinnamon rolls. I based my recipe on the one from The Joy of Vegan Baking and made a few substitutions and omissions.

Ingredients

Dough

4-1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
6 tablespoons water
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup granulated raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 packet active dry yeast

Filling

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Icing

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons soy milk

Instructions:

In a small bowl, combine egg replacer with water and stir vigorously until well blended. Add that and all the other dough ingredients in the listed order (liquids first) to the bread machine pan and prepare using the dough cycle.

After the dough cycle has completed, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Make the filling. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12”x10” rectangle, about 1/4” thick. Then spread the filling on one side of the dough. Roll the dough lengthwise into a log, then cut into 1” pieces.  You should get 10-12 pieces.

Place into a lightly greased pan and bake on 375 for 25-30 minutes until browned. Allow to cool.

In a small bowl, combine icing ingredients. Once the rolls have cooled for about 15 minutes, pour the icing over the rolls. They’re best when still warm.

What’s your favorite thing to bake for the holidays?