Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Vegan No More

After 6 years of veganism, I've decided to become just a regular ole vegetarian.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

こんにちはウアイトガル (Hey White Girl)!

I swung by the Japanese and Korean groceries as I had a craving for sushi and kimchi. Frequently being the only non-caucasian in all-white environments has gotten me used to double-takes from people. I used to take this personally, until I realized that for the majority of people it's just simple surprise and not some manifestation of innate racism.

I found my feet in the other shoes today. As I hauled my bounty of Japanese groceries to the counter, I looked up and was visibly surprised. My cashier, in the middle of Japantown, in Nijiya Japanese market was a white girl! In my whole life of shopping in Asian markets, I've never once seen a caucasian person behind the counter. Atfer the momentary shock we shared smiles. I'm sure she's gotten used to it. It's cool that Nijiya Market hired her. Maybe she's a college student who thought it would be a good way to immerse herself in Japanese? Next time I see her, I'm going to ask. What an experience it must be for her.

Oh, and there were two other surprises for me today, a nude man casually window shopping on Castro Street and nori priced at 10 cents a sheet Well, actually for SF, the former wasn't that much of a surprise. But the cheap nori certainly was. The last time I saw nori at that price was 7 years ago in Brookline, MA. Since then the absolute lowest I've seen is 20 cents/sheet. ありがとうにじや!

I was going to roll sushi for dinner tonight, but I couldn't find my bamboo roller. So I went with pan-fried tofu, kimchi, and rice.




Monday, September 20, 2004

Mixed Vegetable Pakoras

Pakoras are one of India's most common snack foods. They're fried munchies similar to Japanese tempura, but made with chickpea flour instead of wheat. And though pakoras are deep-fried, they shouldn't be relegated to the status of junkfood. One of the most common types, mixed veggie pakoras, is nutrient-dense. With vitamins A and C from the veggies (I chose red bell peppers, sweet potato, and onion), and plenty of protein, iron, and fiber from the chickpea flour, pakoras are far and away superior to other fried foods like french fries.

For the spices I chose cumin, coriander, black pepper, and pomegranate seed. Ever since I bought them, I've been putting pomegranate seed in everything. They've got a wonderful sweet and tart flavor that blends well with the flavor of many vegetables.


Frying them up!


Hot and crispy, just the way I like them. Pakoras aren't a main dish by any stretch in traditional Indian cuisine, and I generally pair them with a dal. But I was craving pakoras and only pakoras tonight. Oh, and the red stuff looks like ketchup, because it is! When I don't have a proper chutney on hand, I find that ketchup is a great alternative.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

SF BBQ

Today I met several more people in real life that I play online games with. Today was the first bay area bbq for Rough Trade, a gay gaming group that formed in "City of Heroes." The morning was pouring rain, but luckily everything cleared up for the bbq. We had the usual bbq fare of burgers and hot dogs, but I also brought vegetarian bulgogi, a korean dish traditionally made with marinated beef, and grilled tofu.






There's my sleeve on the right!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Methi Channa Dal with Haldi Chaval

With all of the vegetarian options available in this city, it is way too easy to eat out. But the past couple of days I've fired the kitchen back up. And I've gotten back to my passion of Indian cooking. This whole week has been different Indian dal dishes. Tonight was Methi Channa Dal, or split chickpeas with fenugreek leaves.


Mustard seeds and black sesame seeds for the spice sauté aka "tarka." To the left are the dried fenugreek leaves.


Spices to be ground into a dry masala for the secondary tarka (added when the whole mustard seeds begin to pop). Center then Counter-Clockwise from the top: Copra (dried coconut), Ground Cumin, Anardana (dried pomegranate seeds), Peppercorns


I was skeptical on how well a rice cooker would handle basmati rice, especially spiced basmati rice with frozen veggies added in. I decided to experiment with haldi chaval (turmeric rice).


It turned out well!



Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Cream of Kale Soup

Kale is hands down my fave green leafy vegetable. Which is why I am surprised I never made this before.


Monday, August 23, 2004

Jap Bastard

The night started off well enough. I had a pleasant dinner with Mike at Naan and Curry, a Pakistani joint near North Beach. I ordered the channa masala while he ordered the palak paneer. Good food all around and cheap. Our two entrees, naan, and root beer came to a total of $14!

Mike walked me back to the station, but not before a detour through Embarcadero so that I could get a look at the pier and the Bay Bridge at night. I thoroughly enjoyed the company and set off for home in good spirits. I've met a lot of people since moving here, and in general I've found the people of San Francisco to be an interesting, intelligent, fun group of people.

As I was heading home on the Muni, a group of self-proclaimed "niggas" got on. My father is black. And he grew up in Jim Crow-era North Carolina. He and I have had discussions regarding the reclamation and transformation of the word "nigger" to "nigga." He's never liked it, and I can't say that I am psyched about the word, either. I definitely was not happy listening to the incredibly loud conversation that was punctuated with shouts of "fuck you nigga", "fuck you, gold diggin bitch", "don't front nigga", on and on ad nauseum.

I wish I was bold enough to call these guys on their behavior and make them realize all of the stereotypes they were reinforcing. But I just sat there in silence like everyone else. Finally the train got to my stop. The irritating guys made no effort to let people pass, so I had to brush by one of them. I accidentally clipped his foot. I immediately apologized as I headed for the door and got "fuck off Jap bastard" in return. *Sigh*

-------------------------------

I posted this on the People of Color Forum of Craigslist. Here are some of the more notable replies:

"fuck off kim chee sucka"

"blacks feel that they are invisable that all people see them as you put it 'thugz' and never the person inside. So they act like they don't see anyone else because no else sees them. Black teenagers are guilty of this, they are the most likley to be sterotyped. When people look at you and see just another one of those 'thugz' you are not likley to build up normal social habits. To them nothing outside of their neighborhood is real."

"i don't believe you. i have heard blacks use all types of slang and derogatory phrases but never that one."

"Sometimes blacks can get creative too, ya know?"

"The bottom line is you aren't bold enough."

"Yeah, but I wouldn't expect a man of small stature who can't fight and is alone, for example, to put himself in a position where his health might be jeopardized over something like name-calling. "

"so, how do you insert yourself into their convo? I can't imagine how I'd step into their dynamic. 'Excuse me, but why must you live out a tired stereotype?' I seriously don't know what I'd say."

"If his foot was in the way you had no need to apologize. He should have."

A whole side thread got started questioning if I actually got called a "jap bastard" and whether or not I was a troll. So I responded and pointed people to this blog. I even got an apology from a doubter.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Three

So some of you are probably wondering, "what happened to the food on this blog?" Settling into San Francisco has been a bit of a chore, so I've been reduced to scarfing down meals consisting of canned beans and quick vegan mac & cheese. Once things slow down, I'll be able to get back to what I love most, cooking.

In the meantime, I've had lots of time to think about random things while riding my bike through town. One such random thought was that of committed threesomes. No, not the wham bam, thank you ma'am variety, but actual long-term relationships. The photobook "Three" by Howard Roffman chronicles the lives of such a threesome, who happen to be Americans living in London. Getting a couple to work is hard enough. I don't know how these guys do it.





There's a Greg Araki movie, Splendor, that deals with another threesome configuration.



Totally unlike his previous nihilistic work, I liked it a lot more than I expected. If any of you out there have been in a long-term relationship even remotely similar to the above, tell me about it!

***

This just in! From my friend BigheadBen (his site contains some sexual content. If that isn't your cup of tea, don't click the link!):

"There is a great book called When We Were Three about a decade-long 3 way, sort of, between publisher Monroe Wheeler, author Glenway Wescott, and photographer George Platt Lynnes in 1920-30 Paris, NY. Chock full of photos of some really hot boys. and Gertrude Stein..."


Sunday, August 15, 2004

Rainbow Cooperative

A friend of mine took me to Rainbow Cooperative today. It was much bigger and far more packed with customers than I had expected. The current nationwide trend for food cooperatives has seen formerly vegetarian establishments adding meat departments to survive competition from Whole Foods and Wild Oats. This was the subject of intense debate several years ago at Harvest Cooperative in Cambridge, MA, where eventually a full-scale meat and deli section was added. But amazingly, Rainbow Cooperative is going on strong, with its vegetarian ethic intact and throngs of customers in the aisles. As my friend Scott put it, "Rainbow Cooperative is *the* nexus for San Francisco's vegetarian and vegan community."

At the check-out line, I chatted the cashier up. Not only was I able to find everything I needed, all items were competively priced, and in some cases even cheaper than San Francisco Wholefoods, which both Scott and the cashier call "Wholepaycheck."

Some highlights included

Organic Lacinato Kale for $1.19/lb
Organic Black Beans for $1.12/lb
Organic Peanut Butter for $3.64/lb
Organic Quinoa for $1.70/lb (versus $2.50/lb at Wholefoods)

The bulkfood section at this place was the largest I've ever been in. Every nut and seed butter offered in jars at the store were also available in the bulk section, including cashew, almond, hazelnut, and tahini, in addition to common peanut butter, and each was available in conventional and organic. I found teff flour, nigari, koji berries, and I just wanted to buy it all, but I practiced some restraint, since all I had was my backpack.

As we left, I saw that the coop had two bike racks. One was outdoors, while another was inside the garage. That was nice, given that bikes need protection from the elements, as well. As Scott grabbed his bike, I accidentally stepped in front of a car that one of the Rainbow workers was guiding into the garage. I immediately apologized, but she shook her head, smiled, and said, "don't apologize, you're a pedestrian and you have the right of way. Thank *you* for walking."

The cashier told me before I left, "see you next week!" No doubt about it!

Ellen

Not Ellen Degeneres, but rather Ellen Ferrato, a local DJ. I had the pleasure of listening to her at "Sugar" in the club Stud. She totally engaged the crowd, got into the groove, and just made sure everyone had a great time. And unlike some other DJs I've known, she's really open and friendly. I thanked her for the show and got surprised with a free CD!

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Chino

Today was a sad day. No more dogsitting, as Chino went home today :(. Luckily this won't be his last visit to Chez Wu.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Bay Area Vegetarians

Tonight I went to my first Bay Area Vegetarian dinner. It was at this great restaurant Golden Era which specializes in Pan-Asian vegan food with a heavily Vietnamese influence. It was so surreal to be surrounded by so many vegetarians and vegans. We had a party of 12, but the restaurant was completely packed, with about 8 people waiting in the lobby to be seated.

We decided on family style with all of us sharing the entrees. That's nothing new to me, but I've never shared with such a large group before. There was a constant progression of food. I feel like I've been to a Thanksgiving dinner, I am so stuffed! Several of us were planning to head out to see Super Size Me afterward, but we got so wrapped up in conversation that before we knew it, it was too late. I'm definitely looking forward to more of these. Good food, fun people, great conversation.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Red Beans & Rice Didn't Miss Her

Though my recent move disrupted things a bit, I've gotten back into triathlon training. But this time around, I'm lifting weights as well, rather than the 100% endurance training I was doing before. Over the years I've lost quite a bit of lean muscle mass. I used to be solid at 165 lbs but now I'm holding steady at 140. I don't need to get back all that weight, but I think a good 15 lbs of lean muscle would be great, and would help my racing a lot. There's lot of debate on how much protein people need to gain muscle effectively, but I tend to side with people like vegan weightlifter Mike Mahler. His suggestion is 0.8g-1g per pound of bodyweight.


Red beans and rice is a great dish for people looking to gain weight. It's protein packed and really simple to make. Just sauté diced onions with a bay leaf, add cooked rice and canned beans, dump your favorite spice mix, and stir well. When using left-over rice, which is what I did today, the time from stove to table is 10 minutes max.

"Give me a sista, can't resist her, red beans and rice didn't miss her..." Ah, even Sir Mix-a-lot gives props to the vegan diet.



Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Wanna Channa?

Last night I whipped up a quick batch of Channa Masala (curried chickpeas). This dish could almost be considered the pad thai of Indian cuisine, as it's almost as common in Indian kitchens and restaurants. The dish can be as complicated or as simple as you wish. When going all out, the spice mixture can exceed 10 individual spices, including such ingredients as dry pomegranate seed, mango powder, fennel, fenugreek and a touch of black salt. But last night I kept the spices to five with cumin, allspice berry (not traditional, but who cares), nutmeg, cayenne, and cinnamon.


Channa Masala with Basmati and Garlic Chili Pappads

Monday, August 09, 2004

So Close

Last night was movie night at a house of all gay vegans. After three years of living in vegan unfriendly South Florida, I feel like I am now in some alternate reality. As would be expected in San Francisco, the "Gateway to Asia", many people are big fans of Hong Kong cinema. So the movie chosen was "So Close", an HK action thriller.

"Hong Kong director Corey Yuen (one of Jackie Chan's childhood kung fu classmates) delivers a radically fun punch to the head with this surprisingly moving, big budget, action wedding cake. Two assassin sisters, Shu Qi (THE TRANSPORTER) and Vicky Zhao (SHAOLIN SOCCER), versus one cop, Karen Mok (FALLEN ANGELS), in a movie that's not only an upgrade of the Hong Kong "Girls with Guns" genre, but a lesbian date flick, as well."
---Excerpt from the New York Asian Film Festival:


Guns, hot asian chicks in skimpy outfits, and girl-on-girl action... this film sounds like a Californian frat boy's dream. However, it was pretty fun for the trio of queer vegan boys who watched this last night. Maybe it was the death-by-stiletto-heels and the Carpenters Sound track. Yes, the Carpenters. Who knew that a frenetic fight scene with flying shards of glass, bullets whizzing by, and cyanide gas could be done to the song "Close to You." You have to see/hear it to believe it.


As with every movie in the "Reluctant Assassin" genre, the message is "every life you take, a piece of you dies as well." Oh, along with "never trust a woman with fashionista South Beach sunglasses."

Sunday, August 08, 2004

The Crime: Renting While Black

Today had a sobering moment that reminded me that even in a progressive bubble like San Franciso, racism can rear its ugly head unexpectedly. Ralowe, Lance, and I had arrived at a video store, after purchasing bicycles at a nearby shop. Lance, who is white, decided to stay outside to watch his bike, while Ralowe, who is black, went in to get the movie with Lance's card. A few minutes later, Ralowe came back and said that the video store clerks wanted to talk to Lance. Lance returned, movie in hand, though with a slightly annoyed look on his face.

"They wanted to make sure that my card wasn't stolen by you," Lance said.

"Typical," Ralowe replied.

What actually surprised me most was not that the clerks thought Ralowe might have stolen the card. Racist fumblings like that happen a lot. But I was very surprised that the clerks *told* Lance their suspicions after it had already been established that Lance and Ralowe were friends. You would think they would've wanted to keep their snafu under wraps.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Seitan Teriyaki

I totally had a teriyaki craving for lunch today. In the skillet is a mixture of cooking wine, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and ginger peel. On the left is some vital wheat gluten that will soon become seitan (say-tahn).


Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten has a recipe for seitan on the back, though it's a bit off and adds about 1/2 cup too much water. I learned this the hard way a while back. Jo Stepaniak's recipe in "Vegan Vittles" is a lot more precise. The one change I made to her tried and true formula was toasted sesame oil instead of olive oil for the wet mix. To the left is the mixed seitan before boiling in broth, and to the right is the finished product. Technically seitan is only seitan after it has been boiled. Prior to this step, it's called "kofu." But this distinction isn't a big deal, and I think only Japanese monks hold to this nowadays. I've made seitan before using the traditional waterwash method from wholewheat flour. But it is a laborious process, and I had neither the time nor inclination for that today.


The liquid has simmered down to about 1/4 of its original volume, and is now teriyaki sauce.


Mmmm... teriyaki...

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Verdant the Action Figure

Here's one of the items I've packed for the big move to San Francisco. It was an early birthday gift for 2002 from my Canadian friend, Kel. It was a complete and utter surprise. I don't remember the last time I got a gift that was completely handmade and tailored so specifically for me. Kel is simply awesome! For the rest of this entry, he takes the reins and details the process of creating a queer vegan action figure.
__________________________________________________________

Paragon City's Favorite Treebugger!
by Kel C.


Here's a li'l page devoted to the second PRISM action figure i made... everyone's favorite vegetable muncher, Verdant. Verdant's #1 fan received the fig in the mail already and is humoring me by saying he is pleased. ;) 6 pics follow...please be patient.

verdant_front2.jpg (45148 bytes)


He's got the free condom and rainbow US flag accessory. Seems to be a trend. This time around the flash on my camcorder seemed to be having problems with the whites of the figure's eyes, they're not as huge as they look in the above pic. Here's a blurry, darker pic (no flash used) from my other digicam to prove it:



verdantfig5.jpg (30381 bytes)


The text underneath the "Verdant" reads: "Paragon City's favorite Treebuggger!!" The text off to the side reads "Light it Up!! With Thickets of Dense Foliage and Autographed Flamer Poster! Also Includes Free Condom!!"



verdant_right2.jpg (25386 bytes)


And here on the side we can see that i did indeed include a scale replica of an actual Flamer poster. It's signed "JC, 'i care about you'. --Alex" and has three little red kissy marks on the face and chest. Verdant and Flamer are "close." ;)



verdant_left2.jpg (35484 bytes)


Yet another pic with the whites of his eyes looking bigger than they actually are...one day i'll get the art of action figure photography down. One day. Off to the figure's right there are little pine trees from the hubby's model railroad days, and above those there is a bunch of lichen from the same source. The brown stuff on the figure's left is actual tree bark, and the black box with the arrow above it reads: "Look Kids! Bark to Chew On! Be Vegan Like Verdant!"



verdant_back.jpg (40044 bytes)


Actually remembered to snap a pic of the back card this time, not that it can actually be read at this size.

===>The full image<===


Please note the complete lack of the words "woody" and "stump". Too easy. ;)


And that's my grade seven art project! ...Who's next? ...Who knows!!
--Kel C.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Keerai Masial and Aloo Chole

Here's a dinner I made recently using amaranth leaves taken right from our plot in the nearby community garden.


Keerai Masial (South Indian mashed amaranth leaves), Aloo Chole (North Indian Potato Chickpea Curry), and Basmati


The color of the cooked amaranth got washed out by the digital camera. It was a deep emerald green with striking ruby red rivulets all throughout.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Kitsune Soba (Fox Buckwheat Noodles)

I was still feeling under the weather yesterday, so I decided to include shiitake and miso for dinner.

Preparing two separate dashis (soup stocks). On the left is kombu dashi for the miso and to the right is shiitake dashi for the soba.


Panfrying, then dousing the tofu in cold water


Dinner served with edamame. In Japanese folklore foxes love tofu, particularly fried. Thus the name Kitsune Soba, or Fox Buckwheat Noodles :).

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Thai Red Curry

My friend Anna had me thinking about Thai food. One of these days I'll have to plant some lemongrass of my own. But in the meantime, Thai Kitchen red curry paste can do the job ;). The recipe was right on the back of the curry bottle. I highly recommend it! The surprise highlight of last night was the sweetness of the sugar snap peas. I ate several of them raw before throwing them in the pot.

The red curry with brown rice and fresh papaya slices for dessert.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

International Flair

Greg and I after a party thrown by his boss. Ben was also there, but I couldn't find the photo with him. The theme was "International Flair." I went as a badly rendered Polynesian, Ben was a tiki tourist, while Greg was an immigration officer. I was in board shorts and sandals, so I looked like a fool walking through the Castro (Greg parked as far away from the party as possible).


Dessert with Darin and his bf Carlos after an awesome Ethiopian meal in Berkeley. This ice cream shop had tons of vegan options, so I was in heaven.

Friday, June 04, 2004

A Taste of Kaya

Ben, Eric, and I having lunch at this little burrito joint near Eric's work.


For today's excursion, Ben took me to Japantown. The first 20 min or so were not so enjoyable as I really, really had to pee, but I was doing my best to act all casual and not do the pee dance. I got that taken care of, and the rest of the time was fine. We checked out the large Japan Center, which was a mall, but filled with Japanese (and some Korean) stores.

I decided on a combined Korean and Japanese dinner, so we went to the appropriate grocery stores Woo Ri and Nijiya.


My Korean mother hated the Japanese because of WWII for a very long time. For example, she got upset when my sister bought a Toyota. But times have changed, and so has my mother. During WWII, the Japanese military kidnapped many young women in the countries they occupied and forced them to become camp sex slaves. But a few years back, a Japanese women's group forced their government to acknowledge the tragedy and issue an apology. My mother was heartened by what the Japanese women's group did and said to me that "government is not people." Now, years later, she watches Japanese game shows on satellite TV and reads books on bonsai.

Because of how my mother was about Japanese people, I was rather shocked to find not one, but several Japanese-Korean restaurants in Boston, Massachusetts. The first one I went to was "Kaya." The restaurant was named after the kingdom of Kaya, which was located on the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula. Unlike other kingdoms of the peninsula at that time (Paekche, Silla, Koguryo), Kaya had very strong relations with several southwestern Japanese kingdoms. It was a perfect name for the restaurant, and I thoroughly enjoyed eating childhood favorites along with Japanese foods that were very new to me at that time. I for one, think fiery Korean kimchi is perfectly complimented by sushi.

Marinating tofu with soy sauce, garlic, mustard powder, sugar, and toasted sesame oil


Stuffing the inari (sweet bean curd pockets)


Rolling the kim bap (Korean nori rolls), then slicing (and eating the sloppy ends)


A vegetarian taste of Kaya: Cabbage Kimchi, Kim Bap, Pickled Ginger, Inari-zushi, Scallion Kimchi, Tofu Nigiri-zushi