Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Huskur mot förkylning

Well, strängt taget går inte virusinfektioner att bota, men det finns sätt att göra tillfriskningsprocessen mer uthärdlig. Själv har jag just legat däckad i höstens första förkylning. Underbar tajming i och med att jag dessutom har en hemtenta att skriva. Det går inget vidare bra att tänka genom feberdimmorna. Hur som helst så är jag nu på bättringsvägen, och följande brygd har potentiellt varit orsaken till att hostandet och snorandet har hållt sig på en miniminivå. Jag samlade ihop alla tips vänner och släktingar kastade över mig och kokade ihop allt i en stor kopp.

Huskur mot förkylning

  • 2 cm färsk ingefära (riven)
  • 1 tsk torkade kamomillblommor
  • Några nypor torkad eller färsk timjan
  • Några nypor torkad salvia
  • Juice från en halv citron
  • 1-2 msk maskroshonung (agavesirap eller lönnsirap funkar också)
Lägg ingefäran, kamomillblommorna, timjan och salvia i ett tefilter. Placera filtret i en stor kopp och häll över kokande vatten. Låt dra fem minuter. Ta ur tefiltret och blanda i citron och maskroshonung.

Denna brygd har jag alltså pimplat mer eller mindre konstant under de senaste dagarna. Tämligen vätskedrivande, men värmande och välgörande.

Prosit,
Winterdragon

Monday, 29 October 2012

Recipe: Green Monstrosity

Have I got a smoothie recipe for you! I made it up all by myself yesterday morning, and I am rather proud of it. It's green, wicked tasty, and probably so healthy you might start sprouting carrots out of your ears if you don't watch out. It's the kind of thing the Hulk would drink for breakfast. Here ya go:

Green Monstrosity

  • One avocado
  • Two kiwis
  • 3 dl oatmilk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 2 cm piece of fresh ginger, shredded
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

Enjoy!
Winterdragon

P.S. If you dare try out the monstrosity, please do give me some feedback! It is my very first recipe to share in public.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

How to wash your hair without shampoo, vegan style

How to wash your hair in a vegan way? Even better, how to do it without using shampoo? It has now been two years since I last washed my hair with shampoo, and I am not planning going back to it anytime soon. There are thousands of ways out there to wash your hair without shapmpoo, but now I'm just going to share the routine I have acquired so far. It works incredibly well for me, but I cannot guarantee it will work equally well for all hair types. The only way to find out what works for you is through experiment. Let the science begin!

Things you need:
  • Baking soda (for you Swedes reading this, note that this translates to bikarbonat, not bakpulver)
  • Maple syrup (optional)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Camomile infusion (optional, mainly recommended for blonde hair)
  • Coconut oil (optional)
How to proceed:
  1. Prepare the shampoo substitute first. I do this by taking a small plastic bottle and filling it about halfway up with baking soda. Fill about half of the remaining space with maple syrup (if you like), and then fill up to the top with water. Give the bottle a good shake, until everything is mixed into a slushy consistency. The stuff will separate with time, so you will need to re-shake it before every use.
  2. Next, prepare the conditioner substitute. I usually take a plastic litre-bottle, pour in about half a deciliter of apple cider vinegar, and fill up the rest of it with cold water. Give it a good shake, to mix it up. If you like, you can use camomile decoction (like camomile herbal tea) instead of water. I do this when I remember to prepare it well in advance so that it has had time to cool. Supposedly the camomile should lighten the hair colour somewhat, but mainly it smells nice.
  3. Start out the washing by thoroughly wetten your hair in warm water (opens up the pores in the scalp, making washing more efficient). Pour a bit (about 1-3 tsp) of the baking soda mixture into your hands and smear it evenly across your scalp. Gently massage your scalp with your fingertips (not the lenghts, just the scalp!) for a few minutes.
  4. Thoroughly rinse your hair and scalp with warm water, making sure to remove every trace of baking soda. Take your time, it will need a bit longer than ordinary shampoo to wash out. When you're done, swiftly rinse with cold water. This will close the scales on the strands of hair, leaving them less prone to break.
  5. Pour the apple cider vinegar-mixture over the hair, making sure to incorporate it into the entire hair as well as the scalp. This is important in order to neutralise the base of the baking soda. Do not rinse afterwards!
  6. All done! If you want to treat your hair as gentle as possible, let it dry on its own accord, and do not comb or brush it until completely dry. If you like, you can apply a tiny bit of coconut oil on the hair ends as it dries, to protect them from splitting. I only do this once in a while.
Like I said, this is a process that works for my hair (which is, for the record, long, straight and blonde). I have acquired it through a bit of experimentation back and forth over the past two years. As of now, I wash my hair on average once every five days, and it has become stronger and better-looking than ever before. There are many reasons not to want to use shampoo, but I will blather about them another time. For now I shall simply say: good luck with the experimentation, if you feel inclined to give it a try. I'd be delighted if you shared any experience on the matter with me.

Oh say, can you see my eyes?
If you can, then my hair's too short!

Love and haaaaiiiir,
Winterdragon

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Vegan things I don't eat

I've gone on and on about vegan things to eat this month, so how about flipping the question upside down: what vegan things do I not eat? (Er, vegan things generally considered edible, that is.) I'm actually not all that picky. Well, some would say that being vegan in itself is being majorly picky, but I consider it merely re-defining the word "edible". I've even endeavoured to learn to eat (and even like) things I previously felt suspicious towards

Anyway, there are a couple of things I still just cannot stand, no matter how diplomatic and well-mannered I try to be.
  • Garlic. My reason for detesting garlic is not, contrary to popular belief, that I am a vampire, but that I am simply allergic to it. Well, I also find the taste and smell of it revolting, but getting massive stomach-pains after eating it doesn't really make it more appealing.
  • Grapefruit. Ugh, the bitterness. Fuck grapefruit.
  • Blue cheese. Yes, even the vegan variety. Mold doesn't belong in food, damnit!
Hm, now that I think about it, I cannot quite recall anything else that I've actually tasted and subsequently refused to eat. Sure, there are things I dislike, but not to the point of wanting to eliminate them from the Earth's surface so that nobody will try to feed me with them. If I were to include meat-, egg- and dairy products, the list would be several orders of magnitudes longer, but since such things no longer fall within my definition of food I will not bother mentioning them. Overall I really like vegan food.

What foods do you dislike to the point of refusing to eat them?

Winterdragon

For the love of pancakes

My favourite food hasn't changed since I went vegan. Or since I was a small kid, for that matter. I've always been ridiculously fond of pancakes. While it might not be the most wholesome food in the Universe, I still like it so much I gladly eat it several times a week if my flat-mate doesn't stop me. I've tried quite a few pancake recipes since I went vegan, but this one is my favourite. It holds together nicely if you've got a cast iron pan and a bit of pancake-flipping skills. (If you don't, go get a cast iron pan because they're bloody fantastic, and go practise your pancake-flipping skills. I assure you that you will level up in the process.) Plus, the ingredient list is simple and minimalistic, no fancy egg-replacers or such things needed.

The recipe in question is from Vegania (in Swedish), so I take no credit whatsoever for it, but for your delight I have here translated it into Enlish.

Pancakes

  • 3.5 dl flour
  • 6 dl non-dairy milk
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
Mix everything together, making sure to eliminate all lumps. A tip is to start out with about half of the milk and whisk in the flour little by little, only adding the remaining ingredients once the batter is smooth. Pre-heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat for about ten minutes while letting the batter rest in the fridge. Coat the pan with a thin layer of rapeseed oil, then pour in a bit of batter and tilt the pan to spread it out evenly. Fry until the pancake is brown around the edges, making sure it holds together, then use a thin spatula to flip it and fry until the under-side as well is golden brown. Repeat until batter runs out. The recipe should make about ten thin pancakes, depending on how big your frying pan is.

Remember that practise makes perfect when it comes to flipping pancakes! I've only perfected my technique through years of experience, so do not despair if they turn out more scrambled than flat the first time. Just have patience and try again, and you as well will master the subtle art of pancake-making.

One reason I like pancakes so much is their versatility. You can stuff them with things, put (vegan) cheese on top, shove them into the oven and make crèpes. You can pile them on top of each other, coat them with (vegan) cream and make a pancake-cake (the concept is called pannkakstårta in Swedish, but in English it just sounds riddiculous. damn tasty, though). You can put jam or ice-cream or syrup or fruit or just about anything on top of them. You can roll them up and take them with you on excursions. You can eat them for breakfast or for lunch or for dinner or as a midnight snack. You can put interesting things in the batter and see how it turns out. Today I made pumpkin-pancakes, just because it seemed like a good idea (turns out it was). Gingerbread-spices was also a hit. So was mashed bananas and coconut. I could go on and on, but I'll leave the other possibilities to your imagination.

How do you like your pancakes? (I assume, of course, that you do like pancakes, otherwise you probably wouldn't have read this far.)

Love and pancakes,
Winterdragon

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Restaurant tip: Kao's

Argh, so much to do. Exam period approaching, and I'm swamped. Outlooks for completing VeganMoFo successfully look bleak. Well, I'll try and there is still time.

Time for another restaurant tip! If you happen to be passing by Malmö you should take the time to visit Kao's. Very nice restaurant which I visited today for both dinner and desserts. Their lunch menu includes "vegetable of the day" and "fake (meat) of the day", so there is something for every taste. Incredibly tasty stuff, and interesting beverages. Entirely vegan, and strongly recommended!

Monday, 15 October 2012

The hardest part of being vegan

Today is a very busy day for me. Furthermore, it's an unusually miserable Monday which I'd much rather spend curled up beneath the sheets than studying and meeting people and whatnot. I'll just do my best to make it through the day, and hope I manage without falling apart mentally or physically until I get home. Due to these worldly circumstances, I'm going to cheat a bit and do a reprise of an old post for VeganMoFo today. 

You remember I talked about overcoming reasons against eating vegan? Well, it turns out I wasn't as truthful as I could have been. The very hardest part of going vegan (for me) had nothing at all to do with stopping eating certain things. It is the social aspect of it all that I find hardest to deal with and that at times leaves me feeling utterly de-motivated. The never-ending questioning of my choice by people around me, friends and strangers alike.

If you have not already, I can recommend that you read this post that I wrote about a year ago: Take Me As I Am. It pretty much sums up my sentiment on the matter. A sentiment that is still relevant, especially on days like this, when I'm not at my best. 

Anyone else who's made a supposedly radical lifestyle decision and can relate? Or am I just being whiny?

Winterdragon


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Den perfekta kryddhyllan

Kryddor är kul! Jag gillar kryddstark mat och tycker om att experimentera med olika kryddkombinationer. Kryddor kan få vilka alldagliga ingredienser som helst att smaka fantastiskt, så även för den som inte är rik nog att ha en stor matbudget kan det vara väl värt att investera i en välfylld kryddhylla för att levla upp sin mat från tråkig till intressant.*

Jag har ett antal kryddor som jag alltid försöker se till att ha hemma. I princip alla använder jag regelbundet, dock vissa mer än andra. De understrukna här nedan använder jag så gott som dagligen, och jag skulle inte betrakta ett kök där dessa saknades som komplett. Här följer min kryddhylla:

  • Basilika
  • Dragon
  • Cayenne
  • Chili
  • Curry (färdigköpt kryddblandning)
  • Dill
  • Garam masala (färdigköpt kryddblanding)
  • Gräslök
  • Gurkmeja
  • Ingefära
  • Kanel
  • Kardemumma
  • Koriander (både frön och blad)
  • Kryddnejlika
  • Kryddpeppar
  • Kummin
  • Lagerblad
  • Mejram
  • Muskot
  • Mynta
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Persilja
  • Rosmarin
  • Rökextrakt ("Liquid Smoke", men röksalt funkar också)
  • Salt
  • Salvia
  • Senapsfrö
  • Spiskummin
  • Svartpeppar
  • Tacokrydda (hemmagjord kryddblandning)
  • Tandoori masala (hemmagjord kryddblandning)
  • Timjan
  • Vanilj
  • Vitpeppar

Naturligtvis föredrar jag färska kryddor i de fall det är applicerbart, men det är sällan jag tycker mig ha råd att kosta på mig det, och då är det inte så dumt att ha en massa burkar med väldoftande pulver i.

Sen kommer ju den svåra frågan om hur kryddhyllan skall organiseras. Tio poäng till den som kan lista ut mönstret i hur jag har sorterat kryddorna här nedan:



Vilka kryddor finns på din kryddhylla, och vilka skulle du inte klara dig utan?

Kärlek och kryddor,
Winterdragon

*I min värld är intressant det bästa möjliga omdöme en maträtt (eller böcker eller människor eller vad som helst för den delen) kan få. Det är inte på något sätt ett nedvärderande adjektiv i mina öron.

Friday, 12 October 2012

The sound of cooking goes "minnnng!"

I've mentioned before that when going vegan I decided to learn to cook properly. As I've said, I've practically detested cooking before, and hardly had skills to make anything more advanced than pancakes. Really, I could barely make microwave popcorn without setting off the smoke alarm. I guess I simply found cooking exceptionally boring, which is never any help if one wants to learn something. 

Now, however, I'm making process in my quest towards learning to cook, and am slowly turning to like cooking. I have a little motivational trick that makes the prospect of spending hours in the kitchen not only tolerable, but even appealing. Even doing the dishes becomes a joy. The secret is audiobooks. I was sceptical towards the concept at first, but when my flat-mate started listening through the Harry Potter series while doing domestic chores I joined in on the listening and actually enjoyed it a great deal. If the person doing the reading is good enough at it, it actually becomes almost as good (sometimes even better) as reading the book yourself, with the additional bonus of making it easier to find time for it.

Right now I am listening my way through the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, books I can strongly recommend in any form to anyone unfamiliar with them. Especially if you like fantasy and enjoy a good laugh (who doesn't?). But even apart from the witty humour, they are lovely in so many ways.

“And why is it called Ming?”, said the arch-chancellor, on cue. The bursar tapped the pot. It went “minnnng!”
- Terry Pratchett (The wizards of Unseen University discussing etymology, Moving Pictures)

Do you like to listen to audiobooks as a means of motivation to do boring chores? Or in other circumstances? What do you listen to?

Love and audiobooks,
Winterdragon

Thursday, 11 October 2012

C is for cookies (that's good enough for me)!


Anybody who knows me could probably confirm that I am a real cookie-monster. I love cookies and sweets of almost all (vegan) varieties. And while cooking food is something I do more out of need than for enjoyment, I think baking cookies is quite fun. Maybe not as fun as eating them, but still.

For those of you who thought going vegan means giving up on cookies and baked goods forever—think again! Were that the case, I would have a very much harder time indeed sustaining this diet. It might not be the healthiest obsession, I am undoubtedly at least slightly addicted to sugar, but for now it brings me joy and do not cause others any harm, so what the hell. We all have our vices.

So how to bake these vegan cookies, then? What is the magic behind making cookies taste absolutely delicious without eggs and butter? Well, for a thorough course in the art of vegan cookie-making I can warmly recommend the following book: 


Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Full of cookies of the most diverse kinds, even ones you can supposedly eat for breakfast (without the sugar crash an hour later that would normally follow, heh). I have owned the book for about a year, and have by now baked my way through about a third of the recipes. My skill level in cookie-baking is nowhere near high enough for me to be able to invent my own recipes, but at least I can follow instructions by now without screwing things up too bad. It helps that most recipes in this book are also ridiculously simple. You learn a few tricks, know what ingredients to keep on hand if the desire for cookies should arise, and you get the hang of it. Lots and lots of practise shouldn't hurt either, which is an excellent excuse to always have home-baked cookies in the pantry. I know at least that for me, my home doesn't feel complete without a well-filled cookie jar.

Do you have a favourite cookie? Myself I find the combination of peanut-butter and chocolate in a cookie nigh-on irresistible.

Love and cookies,
Winterdragon

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Running up that hill

Today I'm taking a break from VeganMoFo in order to write about something completely different: running. I have, since about half a year, taken up running. I really rather detest running. So why am I doing this, then? Well, let me tell you my story.

Last winter I was getting sick of not having trained anything at all for circa one and a half year. I was feeling tired and restless, and was fed up with getting sick all the time, so I figured it was time to do something about it. Ideally, I would have liked to take up longswordfighting again (I used to practise european medieval martial arts). I did miss it so terribly much. Unfortunately though, I was running low on both money and spare time, so in order to keep from going insane by stress and to be able to still pay the rent, I figured I needed something simpler. Something I could do alone, at any time, and for free. A bonus if it also got me out in the open air. Running seemed to fit the bill quite perfectly. The issue was just that I really hate running.

I don't want to hate running. I really like the concept in theory, and furthermore it would be very practical to be able to run more than a hundred meters without fainting if the need would arise. It's just that I've never been very good at it. Even back in the days when I was in great overall shape, training six days a week, I still couldn't run more than a kilometer or two without becoming thoroughly exhausted. I could never keep up with the others in school and at training, and it always felt so heavy. I went to doctors who checked whether I had asthma or leg injuries or anything else that might have affected my running, but they never found anything wrong. No matter how hard I tried, I just never seemed to be able to get the hang of running. I followed my trainers' advice on how to run with the "right" technique, but still it never got any easier. No wonder I found it terribly dull, and that's how I came to hate it.

Now, years later, taking up training again after an all too long hiatus, I just have two goals. I want to learn how to run, and more importantly, I want to learn to like running. My first attempt was quite pathetic, but now, having tried my best to keep up training three times a week for the past half a year, I'll have to say I'm getting better. I haven't bothered with keeping track of kilometers, times, speeds, steps and whatnot since I'm pretty certain doing so would only feed my obsessive tendencies and stress me out. Rather I try to focus on how I feel and how my body seems to react. I can now run more than six times as long as I could at first, and thanks to additional strengthening exercises, I feel stronger by the week. I don't get sick all the time anymore, and my physical and mental shape is starting to resemble that of a healthy human being. And as for motivation, I'm even starting to look forward to the next run, even though I still sometimes feel half-dead after completing my round. I'm still just at the beginning of this quest, but it might be interesting to reflect upon what got me this far.

First of all, music. I've noticed that I don't manage to push myself even half as far without some good music in my headphones. Preferably metal of some sort, but other upbeat or hypnotising music might work as well. Current favourites are Dream Theater, Epica, Florence + the Machine, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Sonata Arctica and Emilie Autumn. Also running alone helps; having to compete with someone or having people running past me or behind me is just stressful and demotivating. I know many would probably disagree with me on this, but everyone is different and this is how I function. I prefer to be able to vanish into myself, the music and my surroundings in peace, without the performance anxiety that comes with having other people present.

The most profound contribution to my success thus far is, I think, that I have changed my way of running. A couple of months ago I started trying out so-called barefoot running technique (though still keeping my sneakers on): putting down the front of the foot first and springing back instead of the heel-first-and-roll-forwards technique that I struggled so (but failing) to master as a teenager. I read some information about barefoot running and watched a couple of videos, then I simply decided to try it out on my next run. I haven't gone back to running in any other way since! Somehow, running like this was kind of fun. Sure, tiring to a group of muscles I wasn't used to exercising, but I figured since I was so out of shape in any case I might as well build up those as any others from scratch. The second time I could run further than I had managed thus far the old way. What a feeling! It felt lighter, easier. Simply put, it felt right, and I began wondering if this was the way running was supposed to feel. I still struggle with getting my condition back, heartache and dizziness coming over me towards the end of almost every run, but at least the running itself doesn't feel like having to push my feet through a river of molasses anymore. It feels like I can finally use my legs for running, not just pure willpower. Yay!

Last week, I bought new running shoes. Such ones without any padding and with a separate socket for each toe. They look funny, but in my book that's a plus rather than a minus. More importantly, they're wicked comfortable. Having worn toe-socks for many years and loved it I'd looked at these shoes, wanting to try them out, long before I took up running. I wanted to be as close to barefoot as possible, without having to cut my feet on glass shards and sharp rocks (which is practically unavoidable when living in Lund). So now I finally got the salary from my summer work and could afford them. It feels absolutely fantastic to run in them. It's very much easier to get the technique right in them than in my old, padded sneakers. Also the muscles on my calves and around my ancles got to work more than they were used to, as I noticed by the severe muscle soreness I woke up with the following day. Putting much more time into stretching took care of that during future runs, though. I don't know really what way of running is ideal for the body, maybe it differs between different persons. I just know that this way seems to work incredibly well for me, compared with my old way of running. My evil knee, weakened by an injury some years ago which comes back to haunt me occasionally, hasn't bothered me at all since I started running barefoot style.

To round off this monster of a blog post, I shall commence to tell you about my run this morning. It was fantastic in a very unexpected way. I set out with my new shoes on and was pleased to find there was a brisk wind blowing, making leaves fly all around me. I just love wind in my hair, especially when running. After only about a minute raindrops started falling, but I didn't think much of it and ran on, since it was just a light drizzle. By the time I had done my stretching, however, it was positively pouring down! But stubborn as I am I figured I might as well run on; keeping moving should keep me warm I thought. Shortly thereafter my usual running path took me out of town and in between the fields. The wind was blowing like crazy out there, and the rain was hammering down like needles on my face. It was a struggle just to keep moving forwards and not be blown into the ditch. But I ran, soaked through and screaming from the rain-induced pain, all the way I had set out to run. Towards the end I decided to push it a little and attempt a short sprint. So I gave it all I had, and... what a feeling! It felt like my body just floated forwards, although my feet were pounding the ground. I could only keep it up for a few short moments before I had to slow down due to dizziness and heartache, but those glorious moments left a smile on my face that lasted all the way back home. I just couldn't help laughing like a madman. The whole run left me completely exhausted, but I really can't wait to get back out again. There might be hope for me growing to love running one day, after all!

Love and running,
Winterdragon

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Watching things grow

I've mentioned earlier that since I moved to this great big new apartment this spring, I've started experimenting with cultivating vegetables. Thought I might sum up the result of it all. 

In April the seeds were sown. Radishes, dill, salad, basil and parsley. Small plants were also bought and re-planted in larger pots. Tomatoes, physalis, red bell peppers, red hot chili peppers (no, not the band), thyme, chives and strawberries. Conscientiously, we watered the plants every day (even when we were away we had a friend taking care of them), giving them nourishment every Sunday, and trying not to drown them. It was a cold summer, but towards mid-june some of the radishes became large enough to eat, along with a little dill. The tomato plants grew over a meter tall, but no tomatoes were yet to be seen. Towards july our strawberry plant yielded a handful of tiny strawberries, and the salad ripened. Only towards the end of August, the tomatoes started becoming red, along with a few chilies. By then the basil and the parsley had also sprouted (though barely).

Now it is October, and most of the tomatoes are still hanging green outside the window. The bell peppers are starting to show hints of red, the physalis are turning yellow, and the chilies are ripening more every day. The leftovers of the salad plants has grown tall beyond recognition, and the last of the dill is struggling to stay alive. Most of the other herbs are doing fine, though. The nights are getting colder, and I do hope the vegetables manage to ripe before the frost takes them. But the days are getting shorter, and the sun doesn't warm as much anymore. We'll see. All I can do now is hope, otherwise I'll have to think up something to cook out of green tomatoes.

So, while our harvest has been in no way abundant, at least we've had a little yield of food from all the work we put into it. And it has sure been fun — it is indeed a luxury to be able to go out the back door to the terrace and pick a ripe tomato or a strawberry in the morning. Now we know the basics, and have hopefully learned from any mistakes we made, so the plan is to try again next spring. It is kind of exciting to watch things grow, if you have enough patience. I can have a lot, if in the right mindset. Also, it's a certain feeling to cultivating your own food. A skill that might come in handy one day.


Love and gardening,
Winterdragon

Friday, 5 October 2012

It's an acquired taste

Vegan topic of today is acquired tastes; things you used to dislike but have learned to eat or even like. Here's a list of a few of mine.
  • Oatmeal. Nowadays I can hardly imagine life without it, but as a kid I refused to eat it.
  • Mushrooms. Their spongy and sometimes slimy consistency has always had me viewing them with suspicion. Except chanterelles. I've always loved chanterelles. Now I can eat most (non-poisonous) mushrooms without grumbling.
  • Squash. I've learned to eat them despite their suspicious consistency, and sometimes even buy them myself. It's a very handy vegetable to like since everyone seems to assume that vegetarians adore them and eat them all the time.
  • Eggplant. Another one of those vegetables people usually assume all vegetarians love. I'm still struggling with its sliminess, but at least I can make myself eat it now, albeit reluctantly.
  • Tea. Not many kids like to drink tea I guess, and I certainly wasn't one of them. Now, though, I gladly drink tea of all varieties, usually about four cups a day.
  • Olives. I realised not so long ago that it had been more than ten years since I last tried olives, and decided to give them a chance. Admittedly, they tasted a bit peculiar, although not as revolting as I remembered.
  • Hot food in general. Maybe it's one of those things you grow to like as an adult. When I was little I wouldn't go anywhere near it, but nowadays I absolutely love intense spices and sweat-and-tear-inducing hotness.
What about you, dear readers? Do you have any acquired tastes?

Winterdragon

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Restaurant tip: Govindas

I really have a million things to do today, so this post will have to be a quick one. It could always be useful to know where to find restaurants serving vegan food. So, here is a tip relevant mainly for residents of Lund: Govindas, at Bredgatan 28. Being a hindu restaurant, they only serve vegetarian food, and always have a vegan option. They are only open around lunch, and the place has been tremendously crowded every time I've been there, including today. The atmosphere is nice, if a bit loud during the rush, and the food is always delicious and affordable. A major plus from my point of view is that garlic is considered unholy (for some reason) by hindus, so there is never any garlic in their food. Yay for me, being allergic and also detesting the taste of it. I can strongly recommend a visit! Students get a discount.

Love and food,
Winterdragon

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Recept: Nattgröt

Efter gårdagens vägg av text på engelska tänkte jag skriva ett kort och koncist inlägg på svenska idag, för omväxlings skull. Ett recept, hör och häpna! Starkt inspirerad av Angela Liddons recept vegan overnight oats, har jag skapat en försvenskad version av denna frukosträtt.

Nattgröt

  • 1 dl havregryn
  • En mosad banan
  • 2 msk krossade linfrön
  • 1 krm vaniljpulver
  • 2,5 dl havremjölk
Blanda alla ingredienser i en skål. Låt stå i kylskåp över natten. Äts kall med valfria tillbehör.

Om det faktum att gröten skall ätas kall gör dig skeptisk så kan jag ändå rekommendera att du ger det en chans. Själv tycker jag att den är fantastiskt god. Dessutom innebär det ju att jag inte ens behöver spendera en minut på att laga frukost på morgonen, vilket är en klar fördel eftersom mitt mentala tillstånd mest kan liknas vid en zombies fram till omkring lunch.

Förslag på variationer: stoppa i några bär eller lite frukt. Hacka några nötter och strö över. Blanda i kokosflingor. Jordnötssmör, sirap, sylt, äppelmos, choklad, kanel, andra kryddor. Möjligheterna är närmast oändliga...

God nattgröt, och på återseende!
Winterdragon

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Why go vegan?

Starting off Vegan Month of Food with some musings around the standard question: so why are you a vegan?

I've been vegan for one year and three months, to date. It started as a one-year pledge, to see if I could do it. Apparently I could! I might have failed on a couple of occasions, by mistake or not, but overall I think I managed really well. It was not so hard as I had imagined it would be, and I have started to learn how to cook properly, too, in the process.

So why keep it up, you ask? Why not put an end to this silliness, and start eating "proper" food again? Well, the only reasonable reasons for not eating vegan that I've encountered are taste, habit, and convenience. Habit, broke that one down with a minimum of confusion and turmoil as a result. Sure it takes some determination to break an addiction (which eating meat and cheese and stuff certainly is), but it can be done for sure. 

Convenience, there I had to acquire some knowledge to succeed. Although more and more vegan fast food options pop up every day in the supermarkets, the fact remains that if you want affordable food you'll have to learn how to cook it yourself. As for me, who is widely known as a kitchen-loathing domestic disaster, this was probably the biggest challenge. Luckily, though, I do love learning things, and I was dead set on not just learning how to cook, but also learning to like cooking. And believe it or not, I'm slowly succeeding! Things no longer blow up on a regular basis as soon as I attempt to make something more complicated than pancakes. I also have studied nutritional lore over and over, so don't you worry about me not getting enough proteins or vitamins or whatever.

As for taste, sure I still think that milk and cheese and fish and such things seems bloody delicious. Luckily, though, there exists an amazing variety of plant-foods that taste so good that I hardly miss them at all.

Right. So how about my reasons for actually eating vegan, then? 

The limited resources of the Earth. It so happens that meat, milk and eggs use up vastly larger amounts of resources (e.g. water, energy...) in their production than corresponding amounts of plant-based protein. Even plant-based food grown far away and transported across half the world emits less carbon dioxide than meat produced nearby (of course you could find exceptions to this, but generally it holds true). Furthermore, it seems rather idiotic to use 50 percent of the produced food in the world as animal food and then eat the animals, when most of the energy is lost on the way. Ineffective, not to mention unfair, when people starve in other parts of the world. The single most environmentally-friendly thing a person can do is to convert to veganism.

Ethics. I don't want to be held responsible for the horrible treatment of the animals within our "meat factories". It's weird how the general moral can justify treating animals that we eat, like cows, as slaves while it would be totally unacceptable to treat a dog or a horse in the same way. Also, it doesn't feel so great to consent to the destruction of entire ecological systems through my choice of food.

Health benefits. Nope, you don't need meat to survive. Case closed. Furthermore, you don't need animal protein to be healthy and build muscles and all that. Sure, you have to think a little more about what you eat in the beginning, but once you've learned some tricks to obtain all the vitamins you need it really is a piece of cake. Everything is there, if you just have the sense to put something else there instead of the meat, not just eating pasta with ketchup. But the big deal isn't all the fantastic stuff that's in vegetables; you could eat as much vegan food as you want as an omnivore. It's what your body don't have to deal with anymore that is the great thing. For example, saturated fats and cholesterol (the ones that could cause cardiovascular diseases) are found almost exclusively in animal products. Furthermore, when animal protein is being digested, acids are produced. To prevent the blood from becoming acidic, calcium is released from the insides of the bones to neutralise the acids. The protein in milk actually erodes the bones more than its containing calcium supposedly re-builds them. I could go on about this, but to summarise: humans are herbivores by evolution, not omnivores (as is a popular myth among meat-eaters).

There you go. Three reasons against three. After some consideration (this took years, mind you, I didn't go vegan overnight!) I found that the reasons for veganism were overwhelmingly much more important than the reasons against. And now that I've found that those reasons holding me back can be overcome without it needing to mean even a moderately large sacrifice there just isn't any other way. I might appear a self-righteous bastard, but then so be it. I've come to love this way of living, having chosen to believe that it can actually make a difference. Delusional or not, it still feels fantastic.

End of sermon. Love and veganism,
Winterdragon