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Precision

Precision

Baking is about precision absent of stinginess. Allow enough butter for the bowl, molasses for the spoon, flour for your hands. As you work, keep in mind that there’s possibly nothing in the kitchen more beautiful than softened [vegan] butter mixed with sugar forming sandy […]

Dairy-Free Home

Dairy-Free Home

My husband, Eric, is a truly spectacular human. He’s kind, generous, thoughtful, intelligent, gorgeous, good at everything he does (so frustrating), and compassionate—he tends to want the best for people and animals, in general, always. I have to brag on his behalf for just a […]

Why I’m Not Vegan.

Why I’m Not Vegan.

I am not a vegan and I’ve been thinking about it a great deal lately. I love animals, I hate factory farming, I’m dairy free, so why not? Three reasons: eggs, oysters, and my husband.

Eggs

Chickens are believed to be resultant of the ancestral co-mingling of at least two species of Asian jungle fowl and were first domesticated around 8,000-10,000 years ago for cockfighting, food, and religious purposes. Chickens made their way into the Americas in the hands of European and Polynesian immigrants between 1200-1600(ish).

My point here is that chickens are like dogs— we domesticated them a long time ago and have been cross-bred them to the point that there’s really no place for them in the wild anymore. If we decide as global people that we want to stop breeding domestic chickens, I’m all for it. Let’s let modern day chickens live out their lives in peace, die easy deaths, and be done with it. Until that day comes, it is our responsibility to care for the chickens that we domesticated and those chickens are going to lay eggs.

To be clear, we are whole-heartedly against factory farming and we do not buy grocery store eggs. We get our eggs from reputable sources at local farmers markets or from friends that we know love their chickens and care for them accordingly. Chickens will lay eggs no matter what and, if they come from a known reputable source, I don’t see any harm in eating those eggs.

Oysters

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of sentience is being responsive to or conscious of sense impressions. I like this definition from Animals, Ethics, and Trade: The Challenge of Animal Sentience better, “Sentience is the ability to perceive one’s environment, and experience sensations such as pain and suffering, or pleasure and comfort. An animal that is sentient will have the ability to receive internal sensation and information from its environment, and then interpret this as an emotion.

In my opinion, oysters do not meet these criteria. They do have nervous systems and ganglia to interpret sensations but they do not have brains. They’re not making memories, engaging in cognitive thought, or feeling emotions like fear the way a cow, sheep, pig, chicken, or goat might—the way people do. I think it’s okay to eat oysters…and champagne.

My Husband

M husband is a patient, kind, thoughtful man who supports me whenever I express a goal or desire to him. He has my back and I have his. When I told him I couldn’t eat animals anymore, he was on board. When I told him I couldn’t do mass-produced grocery store eggs, he began buying local (sometimes considerably more expensive) eggs without complaint. When I said I was done with dairy, he switched to non-dairy creamer (Ripple is awesome), milk, and butter right along with me.

When I told my husband I didn’t think I could eat fish anymore, he took umbrage. He’s given up a lot. We used to get chicken wings together ever Sunday, roast a chicken once a week, eat bacon every Saturday morning, and enjoy the occasional VERY rare steak together. All he asks is that we be able to enjoy good sushi once in a while and sustainable, locally-caught fish (he even gave up salmon). You only live once and marriage is a partnership—sometimes, something has to give. Ergo, I eat fish sometimes.

That’s it. Agree with them or don’t but those are my reasons. If anyone would like to share their (polite) arguments or opinions with me, I’m open to them. I really do feel guilty for eating fish so if anyone has a good argument or alternative for that, I’d love to hear it.


Sources:

Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished

It’s 2019 and in late December, I decided that enough was enough. I was talking to my boss and she told me she’d finally made the choice to go dairy-free. She said, “If you think about it, dairy is gross.” YEAH, dairy is gross! I […]

Hurricane Florence & Spaghettios

Hurricane Florence & Spaghettios

Last week, I baked for the first time since we moved to the low country. I was feeling, centered, peaceful, good—FINALLY. Then, Charleston announced a mandatory evacuation due to the threat posed by hurricane Florence. We’re New Englanders, we can handle feet of snow and […]

Boxcar Betty and the Pimiento Cheese

Boxcar Betty and the Pimiento Cheese

The last couple of days in the low country have been tough. Yesterday, my insurance claims adjuster called it—my car is officially totaled. Today, our new veterinarian called to say that Tabitha, the feisty fat orange tabby that I’ve had since I was 14, is experiencing kidney failure. It was as I discussed potential treatment options for my girl that I wondered, what’s the third thing?, because bad things always come in threes, right?

I got my answer a few short hours later at dinner time. While out picking up Tabitha’s new medical regimen, my Amazingly Significant Other decided to pick up some southern cuisine from Boxcar Betty’s, an award-winning establishment specializing in fried chicken sandwiches. Since I’m a pescatarian, hubs thoughtfully selected the vegetarian option for me—a portobello mushroom top, stuffed with pimiento (pimento?) cheese, breaded, and fried to a crispy golden brown—fair enough. Nothing against Boxcar Betty, she seems like she knows her stuff, but pimiento cheese—what in the actual fuck?

I love cheese, I thought all cheese. Even the cheese that I’m not super enthusiastic about like pungent feta and sour gjetost, they’re not my favorites but I respected the process and history behind them. I’ve never come across a cheese I didn’t like…until today.

Pimiento cheese, for those of you who are blissfully unaware, is apparently a southern favorite. It’s a confluence of cheddar, cream cheese, pimientos, and mayonnaise mixed with varying spices. Basically, you take four perfectly good ingredients and you ruin them. I knew when we moved from New England that there would be an adjustment period and I’m not trying to knock southern cooking, the south has certainly done some interesting things with corn, to say the least, but pimiento cheese is dead to me.

If you’re feeling, I don’t know, self-loathing? Here is a classic pimiento cheese recipe from Taste of the South magazine—you’ve been warned, y’all.

 

PS—This is my gorgeous girl, please send her good thoughts <3

 

Low Country-Bound

Low Country-Bound

A week ago today, we officially (and unexpectedly) took up residence in Charleston, South Carolina. Just five short days after my Amazingly Significant Other became my husband, we packed up the car, cats, and made the 16+ hour trip to SC to pursue a new opportunity. I’m […]

The NoMad Hotel

The NoMad Hotel

This past week, Eric and I had the great pleasure of visiting some of the best food and beverage spots that LA and Seattle have to offer, the most notable being The NoMad Hotel. The NoMad was especially memorable for the excellent food but also […]

Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman was born on March 16, 1952 in New York City. She grew up on Long Island but, clearly a woman with excellent taste, she now resides in Boston. Alice earned her BA at Adelphi University before going on to achieve her MA at the Stanford University Center for Creative Writing.

It was while she was a student at Stanford that she wrote her first novel, Property Of. She’d been encouraged to submit a short story to the literary magazine Fiction. Alice’s story was not only published, the editor of the magazine contacted her and asked her if she was working on a novel. Property Of was that novel and upon its completion it was published by Farrar Straus & Giroux—Alice Hoffman was 21.

Hoffman has published more than thirty novels, three collections of short fiction, and eight young adult novels. In addition to Practical Magic, her works include Faithful, The Ice Queen, The Red Garden, and The Dove Keepers—considered to be her seminal work and a great contribution to American literature; it’s also one of my Mom’s favorites and that woman has spectacular taste.

Alice Hoffman saved my life. She doesn’t know me, and there is no reason for her to, but she gave me peace, aspirations, and brought me closer to my Mom. I’ll likely never meet her but her impact on me through her works has been undeniable and irreversible.

When I was 13, as most children do, I changed; unfortunately, not for the better. I became depressed and anxious. I know that’s not uncommon in adolescence now but, at the time, I remember feeling like everything was caving in on itself.  My parents did everything they could. They listened to me, took me to counselors I wouldn’t to speak to, and paid for medication I refused to take. The solution presented itself when my Mom decided we’d both try out light therapy—which involves sitting under a UV lamp for a minimum of 30 minutes a day in an effort to increase the users’ serotonin levels.

Getting an angsty 13-year-old to sit still with their mother for any amount of time when all they want to do is brood in their room alone, any parent can tell you, is no easy feat; my Mom doesn’t spook easily. To accomplish her goal, my Mom plied me with TV and movies. As long as my homework was done, I could watch as much as I wanted until bedtime. The first time we tried out the lamp together, my Mom rented the movie Practical Magic. We sat, close together, under the lamp for nearly a full two hours. I went to bed that night enchanted. For the first time in a long time, I felt inspired and excited about something. You could argue that it was the light therapy working it’s magic, but I don’t think so.

I can’t tell you how many times I watched that movie with my Mom, for the first few times with rapt attention, then as it became comforting background noise—Practical Magic became my favorite bedtime story.  While we watched, my Mom would knit and she taught me to as well.

The truly unbelievable (and embarrassing) part of this story is that, for the longest time, I didn’t know that Practical Magic was based on a book. I read it for the first time in college. As a freshman in a new environment, navigating the stresses of daily college life and working to pay rent, I experienced another bout of anxiety and depression and that’s when I borrowed the book from my local library. I kept it for so long that the geriatric librarian left a message on my phone in which she threatened to report me for theft if I didn’t return the book immediately. I’ve since purchased my own copy and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it.

Every time I feel lost or disenchanted, I read it again. Practical Magic is just that—magic. It brought me closer to my family, lifted my spirits, and gave me a shared point of interest to bond over with my first new friend after we moved to New Hampshire. Alice Hoffman doesn’t know me but I owe her more than words can say.


Facts about Alice Hoffman were taken from her biography on alicehoffman.com.

Baron Forrester

Baron Forrester

After attending New Hampshire’s first-ever Craft Brew Conference, Eric and I decided to get Thai food on the way home. On the way to pick up our meals we walked by Baron Forrester, a little Hampton cheese shop I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to visit, […]