When is a kitchen just a kitchen? Part Two.

When it comes to toys, most usually only require the thought «could this physically or emotionally scar my child in any way?» And when that answer is a «yes,» we usually go ahead and purchase it and let Pearyn make a lifetime of memories with it (or, you know, 10 minutes, usually the amount of time it takes her to get bored with a new toy).

In the event the toy is not categorized as «safe,» it’s usually because it’s a part of the emotionally scarring variety, as in, either sexist or not vegan.

Since I covered «Sexist Kitchen 101» last night, I figured tonight I would answer all those burning questions non vegans have about toys and what makes some of them an issue for our cruelty-free family.

You might be thinking to yourself, «Oh my gosh, shut up about this already, you’re just being overprotective, over analyzing things or just being plain dramatic.»

Who knows, maybe I am. 

But one thing is for sure; there are several toys out there that do not exactly fit into our «animals are our friends, not our personal property or amusement» sentiment.

From farm toys, fridge magnets, books and dvds depicting a well cared for, happy go lucky cow and chickens pecking around enjoying time in the sun, it’s obvious we start lying to our children at an incredibly young age. While I’m certainly not suggesting we fill a two year old in on the gruesome life farm animals live as a soon-to-be commodity, I think it’s less than honest and less than good for our kids to paint a completely false picture for them. Why not skip the whole farm crap in general? Who really wants to get into the ifs ands and buts of factory farming, vegan or not. 

Which brings us to the current toy in question, Pearyn’s new kitchen. 

The kitchen itself isn’t anti-vegan in any way, in fact, it didn’t even come with the cheap assortment of plastic junk food most offered, but instead a set of dishes, bowls, cups and silverware. Yay! But because of the lack of food accessories, we did find ourselves standing in the toy store aisle comparing the pros and cons of each plastic food accessory kit offered. 

There were some riddled with sunny side up eggs, chicken wings and «Fresh» card board milk (because you know, something that is the milk of another species and has to be dramiatically cleaned and filtered before fit for most humans’ consumption seems ‘fresh’ to me), we ended up settling on a set pertaining mainly fruits and veggies, with a few hot dogs and a hamburger thrown in there. We decided we could always say those were our vegan mock meat counter parts anyway. 

While we know we can’t shield Pearyn from everything non vegan forever (we live in a very non vegan world), I’d like to think our home is the one place where she won’t ever feel like an outcast or ever have to worry about being anything other than herself. 

Whether that is a vegan or not, only time will tell. 

Until then we can only do our best to make the right choices for our little one. 

And the first choice we made regarding this kitchen, was to dress it up a little more veg-friendly style. 

 

I think it’s pretty cute if you ask me.

When is a kitchen just a kitchen? Part One.

Sometimes, I think I worry, read and research too much for my own good.

It’s incredibly smart planning on Cupid’s part that my husband is the laid back, fun-loving, relaxed parent, meanwhile I’m the stressed out, planning for the apocalypse, searching for the balance between fun and too much fun parent.

Yeah, I’m the kill joy.

I recently read Peggy Orenstein’s book «Cinderella Ate my Daughter.» It was the perfect amount of feminist meets the modern day woman. Instead of insisting we go out and burn our bras, Orenstein makes us question the mere act of not only burning a bra, but what it means to be wearing one.

Unless you’re a woman yourself or are raising a little girl, I don’t think you realize how damn hard it is to be a female these days.

Sometimes, I think stay-at-home-mom and housewife era of the 1950s would have been more simple than 2011. Nowadays we’re told that we can be anything, do what we want and be what we want.

But can we really?

I have a plethora of friends all who range from stay-at-home moms, work-from-home moms, part-time working moms and full-on-out-of-the-house-40-hours-a-week working moms and honestly, none of them feel 100% comfortable with their choice.

The stay-at-home moms feel as if they’re not really «good enough.» They feel as though many of their working mom friends look down on them because they «don’t do as much» and by not juggling family life and a career life that they’re not really «having it all.»

And the working moms feel like they’re not mother-of-the-year candidates because they’re choosing to leave their babies to pursue their careers. Whether they’re the bread winner of the family or just supplemental income, working mamas feel just as judged for not choosing mommyhood over a career.

Of course, there are plenty who are thriving and comfortable in their situations, but it does leave one to wonder, what about the others?

My husband and I were on a mission Sunday. We wanted to find a play kitchen for our daughter that could both stand the test of time (aka, when she gets older) and one that wasn’t completely sexist.

Wait a minute, how could a toy kitchen be sexist?

Simple enough, really. There are a lot of families out there who would balk at buying their little boys a toy kitchen or a baby doll because those are traditionally seen as «female» interests. On the other end of the spectrum however, many parents of girls would jump at the chance to buy their daughters G.I. Joes instead of Barbies.

So who’s right?

I’m not sure it’s a matter of right or wrong, but more a balance between the two. I don’t think we should segregate toys into «boy» toys and «girl» toys (despite what toy makers think), we should encourage our children to explore their own interests, no matter how unique those may be. On the same hand though, if we push our children to be completely opposed to their traditional gender roles, we might end up making boys feel embarrassed to be boys and girls ashamed to be girls.

After shuffling through pink counters, Disney princess cupboards and pastel fridges, we settled on a kitchen with red and tan colors, no girly-girl condiments and then bought a grill to accompany the toy as well and give it a more uni-sex feel.

Now that the entire ordeal is over, I can’t help but wonder, when is a kitchen just a kitchen?

Tune in tomorrow for a look at «When is a kitchen just a kitchen? Part Two» where we’ll explore a vegan’s take on a not-so-vegan toy.

Confessions of a not-so-super mom

My name is Amanda.

Foremost, I’m a mommy to an incredibly free-spirited little girl. She keeps me on my toes in more ways than one. I’m also a wife to a super husband AND dad. I’m lucky to have a partner who goes out, earns the tempeh bacon and isn’t afraid to come home and fry it up every now and then. 

I’m a daughter to two incredibly supportive parents, a sister to an over-achieving, over-generous brother, sister-in-law to a strong-willed, role model of a what a woman and mother in today’s society should be.

I’m an aunt to an equally rambunctious niece and even more trouble-seeking, but oh-so-fun nephew.

I’m a cousin to other incredible women, all at different stages of their lives and a niece to aunts I get to see every weekend for coffee.

I’m the best friend to two completely different, but incredibly loyal and loving best friends.

And lastly, I’m Amanda.

Somewhere along the way I stopped identifying myself as Amanda and started using all these other definitions instead. And while I absolutely LOVE all of these other definitions, I don’t want to lose the person behind them.

Between a new career, new friends, new responsibilities and new desires, when is a mom supposed to find «me» time? 

How do mothers in this society find the balance between their careers, families, friends and hobbies? Is there one? And what happens when you have more than one child? All the sudden you’re not just a mother to one, but two. 

I look forward to the day we have a second child, someone for Pearyn to relate with, share her vegan outcastness with and overall disdain of her stupid, tree-hugging, grain-eating parents. 

I guess I’m just hoping that come the second little one, I’ll be a lot better at juggling the pianos, bowling pins and medicine balls life is throwing at me. 

Who’s kidding? I just hope I don’t get smashed by this piano first.

You also might like:

Need a little comfort? Try this vegan pot pie!

When I used to be a «regular» eater, I was incredibly big on comfort food. Mashed potatoes and gravy, meatloaf, chicken pot pie, if it had a ridiculous amount of fat and wasn’t exactly good for you, I probably liked it.


A lot.


Since changing my meat-eating ways four years ago, I’ve been working to veganize all those long lost favorites, to much success.


This vegan pot pie is a cinch. Whether you want to go all out and make your own pie crust or would prefer to use a store-bought one, this crazy savory dinner comes together in about 20 short minutes and (perk!) was a favorite of Pearyn herself. 




Vegan Pot Pie

(Serves 8-10)

Pie crust ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Crisco shortening (I can feel my arteries clogging as I type this)
  • 1/2 cup water


Pot pie ingredients:

1 bag frozen veggies (I used a broccoli stir-fry blend to change it up)

2 TBS «butter» 

1/3 cup almond milk

1 1/2 cup veggie broth

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

Salt & pepper to taste


Directions: 

For the crust:

Combine flour, salt, water and crisco in a bowl. 

Once mixed, divide in half and form two balls with it. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least four hours.

After refrigeration, roll out on flat, floured surface and set aside.


For the pot pie:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a sauce pan on medium heat, bring the butter and almond milk to a low boil. 

Whisk in wheat flour on low boil, creating a thick «pasty» sauce. 

Whisk in veggie broth. Stir continuously on low boil until it thickens into a runny gravy mixture.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Oil a pie pan and place prepared crust into bottom.

Add frozen veggies and top with gravy mixture.

Place other pie crust on top and seal (smush) crust together. If you want it to look pretty take a fork and mash it alongside the crust area.

Add a few slits on top.

Bake for 45 minutes, cover outer crust in aluminum foil once it starts to brown and bake for an additional 30 minutes. 


Enjoy (with lots of leftovers!)





Pepper Steak to fool a carnivore

A few weeks ago I posted a phenomenal recipe to make your own vegan «pot roast.» In all fairness the roast was a homemade seitan recipe, one which could be used to make your own lunch meat (just add your own blend of spices) OR is absolutely delightful in pepper steak. 

So whether you have left over pot roast or want to make a fresh batch from scratch, this simple slow-cooker seitan recipe will bring the perfect texture and flavor to any meat-bearing dish. 



If you do choose to make a fresh batch of seitan, I strongly recommend and prefer the slow-cooker method as it gives the perfect texture and infuses a lot of flavor. So make sure you allot enough time for the seitan to cook before using it in the pepper steak.





Pepper Steak ala Amanda
(Serves 6-8) 
Roast ingredients:
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 TB Italian seasoning
1 TB onion powder
1 TB garlic powder
2 TB ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup steak sauce
1 1/2 cups water
4 TBS minced garlic
15.5 oz can of veggie stock



Pepper steak base ingredients:
3 peppers (I used red and yellow because they’re my favorite) chopped into small-medium sized pieces 
1 medium onion chopped into small-medium pieces
28 oz can of diced tomatoes (we buy the no salt added or low-sodium versions)
1 small can of tomato paste (maybe 6 or 8 oz? I don’t remember off the top of my head)
1/4 cup soy sauce (we use low sodium) or to taste
1 TBS vegan Worcestershire 
2 TBS cornstarch to thicken
2 TBS black pepper (or to taste)
2 TBS garlic
3 cups water
Brown rice (we made about 2 cups dry which yielded almost 6, make however much you prefer)


Roast directions:
Turn crockpot on low
Mix together wheat gluten, nutritional yeast and seasonings.
Add soy sauce, steak sauce, ketchup, 2 TBS of garlic and water.
Mix and knead for 2 minutes. The mixture should be slightly damp.
Form a roast-like loaf and place in crockpot.

Pour vegetable stock over and let it cook on low for two hours, on high three.


Pepper steak directions:
Boil your brown rice.
Add can of diced tomatoes, water and tomato paste in large stock pot and cook on low medium heat (like a 3-4, we want to achieve a low boil).
Add soy sauce, Worcestershire, garlic and pepper.
Stir in corn starch, mix until lumps are gone (this will help thicken the pepper steak as it cooks, you won’t see immediate results)
Add chopped peppers and onion. Cook for 15 minutes. 
Half your seitan and put the rest away (use for sandwiches or whatever you heart desires)
Cut the remaining seitan into small strips or chunks (whichever style you prefer for pepper steak, I’m not picky).
Add seitan to pot and cook for 30 minutes. 
Pour brown rice into a bowl and top with crazy delicious pepper steak mixture.


Enjoy!

Bacon ranch mashed potatoes

I don’t even think this needs an explanation.

 

It’s bacon, ranch and potatoes. You don’t get much better than that.

It’s a crazy simple recipe, but in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 80 years and haven’t tried this combo yet then do it.

Bacon ranch mashed potatoes

(serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

2.5 lbs small red potatoes (that’s half of a 5 lb bag)

1 tub Tofutti sour cream

1 pack of ranch seasoning 

1 shaker of vegan bacon bits, tempeh bacon or some other «bacon essence»

2 cloves garlic

4 green onions, sliced and chopped

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375.

Quarter potatoes and boil them for 30 minutes.

Hand mash (because you’ll need the workout after eating these bad boys and they doing things by hand means there’s more love in them)

Add cut chopped green onion and garlic.

Take ranch seasoning and mix with Tofutti sour cream.

Mix «ranch» sour cream into mashed potatoes.

Place ranchy potatoes into a greased casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes. 

Top with «bacon» bits.

Enjoy. Serve with more comfort food. 

The Fab Five reasons cloth diapering is so worth it ~ Chubby Vegan Mom

The other day I was visiting one of my good friends who recently had a little baby girl. While comparing tales of motherhood (in her first week of being a mommy she’s already had a much smoother transition than me) when precious Pearyn decided to take a gigantic number two in her diaper.

So what, kids poop, right?

Well, my little girl usually has a really nice schedule. Once in the morning and sometimes once in the evening. And since we’re usually in our home for these little «presents» it’s really no big deal, we just pop the cloth insert out of the diaper wrap and spray it off with the attachment hooked to our toilet (minimal mess, minimal fuss).

Except yesterday, at my friend’s house, there was no handy dandy sprayer, just me, a really dirty diaper and a toilet.

It’s times like those I question my sanity regarding cloth diapers.

But really, they’re so worth it. And these Fab Five reasons are only the beginning.

No. 1) Let’s face it, they’re way cuter than regular diapers. From cutesty butterfly-covered covers to plain blue or pink, cloth diapers are certainly not as one-dimensional as disposable diapers. Not to mention how much cuter they look when you let your baby run around in just a diaper.

No. 2) They’re good for the environment. Seriously good for the environment. In fact, Americans (JUST Americans alone) throw away enough disposable diapers every year to to stretch from the moon and back at a minimum of seven times. Couple that with the fact that they can take anywhere from 300-500 years to decompose and I’m thinking we’ll be able to build an actual bridge to the moon with the amount of disposable diapers we go through.

No. 3) They’re good for a baby’s bum, in more ways than one. Take for example Pearyn, who unfortunately inherited my lack of «back.» (Mommy most certainly does not have back, and now, baby doesn’t either). This can make for a difficult time filling out all those cute bloomers and skirts. Not to mention most baby’s have less diaper rash with cloth diapers. Keeping your baby’s bottom rash free? Now that’s a reason to cloth.

No. 4) The COST. While shelling out anywhere from $12-25 for every diaper or diaper cover may seem expensive (plus the packs of inserts if you decide to go with wraps instead of all-in-one diapers), it’s really just the first, initial cost that will set you back. I lucked out and got a few great deals on Pearyn’s diapers, but ultimately I’ve saved far more by doing cloth than by buying even the cheapest disposable. For four Thirsties diaper covers and three packs of inserts I spent around $75. (And seeing as how you need to wash the diapers every two-three days, this is all that I really need. That’s the beauty of diaper covers, as long as Pearyn doesn’t have an explosion, I can just swap inserts and use the same cover throughout the day).

So my one-time $75 investment has saved me a total of $480 in six months. And our water bill has only gone up $2 since starting. Sounds like a win-win for mommy.

No. 5) Did I mention how cute they are?

Just look at that cute little tooshie!

 

Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook

 

Vegan barbecue ‘chicken’ pizza

Normally when my husband and I make a pizza at home we usually eat enough that we feel somewhat stuffed, but still have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Because let’s face it, pizza is always more magical the next day, that or my taste buds are just really lazy.

But we made this pizza and ate every.last.piece.

It was that good.

Or we are just that gluttonous, whichever.

BBQ «Chicken» Pizza
(Serves 4-6, depending on how gluttonous you are)
Pizza crust ingredients:
2 cups wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 packet of fast rising active yeast
1 cup warm water
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp salt


For the good part:
BBQ sauce
Your favorite «chicken» replacement, we used Morningstar strips
1 Onion chopped up
1 pack of Daiya cheddar cheese
Garlic, minced
Oil


Directions:
Heat oven to 400. Combine flour, yeast and salt. Add warm water and olive oil, knead 2-3 minutes and form a ball. Place dough in a bowl on the oven with a towel on top and let sit for an 30 minutes.

While the dough is rising, cut up chicken to small pieces and cook on medium heat in an oiled skillet. Add onion and garlic. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until crisped and «browned.»

Roll out dough and fit to greased pizza pan. Spoon barbecue sauce (add as much as you like or don’t like) and top with Daiya cheddar cheese. Add browned chicken, onion and garlic mixture on top. Bake 10-15 minutes or until crust is browned and slightly crisp on the outside.

You also might like:

A journey of faith

I didn’t really grow up religious.

Aside from picking and choosing friends to spend Sunday service with, my family and I have always parted ways when it comes to our «faith.»

It’s not that we don’t have one, I’d like to believe that my mother, father and brother all have some sort of belief in the great unknown out there, even if they don’t know they do.

When it comes to faith, I really, really want to believe in the power of it. Sometimes, I even do. But every now and then there’s this sinking suspicion that I only believe in it because I want to, not because I actually, deep down do.

Which, if I were living life just for myself, maybe a sort-of faith would be acceptable.

But I’m not.

Now, I’m living it for her:

For them.

And honestly, a whole hoard of others that have a special place in my heart, from the family I grew up with, the one I married into, the one I spent college with and the future one Ryan and I will continue to make for ourselves.

So I guess it’s about time to figure out what we believe. Or at the very least, it’s time to start trying. 

We’re not really sure where faith, religion and veganism will fall in line or if they will at all. But we’re willing to start looking for the answers, because I want to have them ready when Pearyn starts asking them. And not because I want to «be right,» but because I want to believe in them. 

I can’t help but wonder however, what other faiths vegan or veg-friendly families follow. I’ve been involved in more arguments over the Bible’s instructions on slaughtering animals for food and necessities than I’d like to admit, so  we’re going to tread lightly and carefully on this path. We’re going to explore lots of different avenues, from Buddhism to Christianity. 

And hopefully at the end of all this, we’re going to find something that’s right for us. And just like veganism, while it may not be right or even accepted by every one else, we’re ready to find something willing to believe in — to put our faith in. 

While I certainly don’t expect veganism to fit into one perfect little religious box, I’d like to find a marriage between the two ways of life if possible. 

So for now, we’re going to start from the beginning. 

Once upon a time there was man and he was created by … 

To be continued.