Tuesday, 30 December 2008

A little bit about… Christmas

We’re in Italy since December 24th and I can say I’m having a great time. I got a bronchitis but I am really happy to be here. As I wrote on the post about my grandma, I was a little bit worried about this first Christmas far from home, but we had a great time.

We had an awesome Christmas lunch. Just us, me and Matteo’s family. And a lot of food, as I wrote before too! My sister-in-law cooked everything she said she would and much more. We spent almost 4 hours eating, talking and having fun together.

Thinking about all the food we ate, one is definitely my favourite: the vegan salty muffins. She cooked some with peas and others with black olives. I could eat them forever!

And this wasn’t everything. In Europe they have the Saint Stephen holyday on December 26th, so we had two days of party and a lot of food. And one more time, my sister-in-law did her best with an amazing vegan menu. And she’s not vegan, not even vegetarian, so, my dear friends, don’t think it is that hard to have a vegan meal. All you need is some vegan recipes in your hands and creative ideas!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I wish all my friends here a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

All about... grandma

This is a hard post to make, but I'll try to make it in a happy way because it's about a special and happy person: my grandma. She passed away two days before last Christmas and this is my first Christmas without her in fact (last year was so confused with the funeral and stuff) and without my parents close to me. But she was the funniest and the happiest person I met in my all life, so I try to keep just the good memories about her.

I didn't meet my other grandma, so she was always the only one. And she was my godmother too. And I never met other woman like her. Always strong and always trying to see the good side of everything. Always making jokes, even about her own problems. When times get hard to me, I think about her. She used to love Carnival. For years, she made costumes and went on the streets of the small city she lived with lots of friends and relatives to celebrate and dance. She didn't like her birthday, so every year she used to choose one
day to be the “birthday day”. She was religious, but didn't want to go to heaven. To her life on earth was the only one she knew and the sky seemed to be boring (with just “white clouds and souls dressed in white”). She always knew she wouldn't live after her 84th birthday and that's how it was. She didn't like go to weddings because “I went to mine and it wasn't that good!” and she loved Christmas.

We used to celebrate Christmas with a big party every year the night of December 24th. My mother's family isn't that big (considering most of the Brazilian families), so we used to be together – my parents, my brother, grandma (and for some years, my grandfather too) and all uncles and nephews, at our house in this small town (just her lived there in fact). And she always arrived carrying the big red bag of gifts and using Santa Claus' hat. This is the best memory ever. And that's why I still love Christmas. Not because of the religious part, not because of Santa Claus, not because of the gifts. Because of my family and because of my grandma.

It wasn't easy to her to understand why I decided to be vegan. She grew up in a farm and used to cook with animal fat for years. When I told her that I wasn't eating meat, eggs and milk anymore, she was really pissed off. She couldn't believe I wouldn't eat her food anymore, and most important, I wouldn't eat all desserts she used to cook with love for me. But after some time, she started to think about some alternatives. She found out a place in that small town that had soy and she learned how to cook some vegan food for me. And after, for Matteo. She loved him. It was love at the first sight. She used to call him “Matteozinho” (little Matteo) and everything she was cooking was for him. Sometimes she forgot about the things, and asked us if we wanted something with chicken or meat, but it wasn't to make jokes (like so many people do), it was just hard to remember or to understand. She was doing her best.

She was the best person I ever met. She will always be an example for my life. She was my sunshine and she will be always in my heart.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

All about... dialogs

I know I have written in some of my posts here that we, vegetarian and vegan people, have to listen to some things that are quite unbelievable. Living in Dublin made me forget how it is hard sometimes to go out to eat or just to have a “simple” conversation about what I do eat or not. At least, people here know what is the meaning of the word vegan*.

So, today I will post some of these strange dialogs, conversations or just questions I have listened for many years:

- I'm vegetarian.
- Ah, don't you eat meat?
- Yes, that's it.
- But fish and chicken you do, don't you?
- Oh, yes, they're vegetable now, didn't you know? (well, most of the times I don't answer like that, but sometimes it happens)

- Hi, I'd like to know if this lasagna has meat in it.
- No, just ham and cheese.

- Try this (some kind of snack that's very common in Brazil)!
- No, thanks, there's egg (or cheese, or meat) in it.
- Ah, come on, it's just a little bit, you won't feel the taste!

- Hi, does this chocolate has milk in it?
- I don't know, why?
- I'm allergic. (this is the best technique used to prevent people lie to us)
- How much allergic?
- Whaaaat?

- Hello, does your pasta has eggs in it? (In Brazil most of the pasta is made with eggs)
- Of course, there's no pasta without eggs, lady! It's necessary to make it “stick together”.

- So you're vegetarian. Do you just eat lettuce?
(this can be the end of the conversation or the beginning of a long one)

- But the animals exist for this, it is natural to eat them.
(no conversation)

- But I don't understand, you don't eat meat, right? But why do you eat soy?
(This one I'm still thinking about what the person really wanted to tell me)

- I understand that to eat meat is bad, that it's not good to kill an animal. But what's the problem with the milk? The cow has it anyway.
- What do you think about somebody taking milk off your mother breast for months to feed another animal?
(this happened just once. Nobody knows how to be nice all the time!)

Well, for sure I have more but I can't remember now and there are some that just make sense in Portuguese because of the words.

* I remembered about this post yesterday because I saw a big article about veganism in one of the biggest newspapers here in Dublin. And the headline was something like “how veganism can make the world better”.

Monday, 15 December 2008

I have a wish...

Christmas time is coming and I really like the end of the year. I don't know exactly why because I am not religious, don't believe in Santa Claus anymore and don't agree with all the kindness and goodness that come magically with these celebrations and go way the same way. But I have just great memories of Christmas and New Year (well, just one bad memory but I will write about it in another occasion).

Thinking about the celebrations and everything we wish for next year, I understood that I have a special wish this year. A big wish, I can say... I really wish a better world. That's it. Not simple at all. And a better world to me involves more people thinking about the well being of human beings, animals and the planet. I know, we are far from this. But I think we can always do something. Day by day, step by step. So, why not start with a vegetarian meal in your Christmas day? There are a lot of vegetarian and vegan options to make your meal delicious and free from cruelty. Save a turkey and change your life a little bit.

I know that is hard to think about a tasty vegetarian meal, but you see here that we, vegan people, can eat a lot of good food and it's not different at the end of the year. We are going to spend some days in Italy and my sister-in-law is already thinking about our vegan meal! And an Italian Christmas meal includes a lot of food. And this year she will try to make a special dessert, called Pandoro. We will get her a vegan cream cheese from here that she will use to make the mascarpone. It will be the first time I eat this dessert and the first time Matteo will eat the vegan version. I still don't know about the complete menu, but I'm sure my sister-in-law will do great.

If you think it's difficult to prepare vegan food, here there are some great blogs to give you some ideas: in Portuguese, Brazil Nut and Cantinho Vegetariano, in English, What The Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway, and in Italian, Vegan Blog. Hope that my vegan and vegetarian friends that read this blog can help me with more tips.

This is what I suggest you: try the vegetarianism/veganism for one day! As I said before, small differences can change everything in the future.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Suitable for vegetarians and vegans

Some people might think I'm crazy to feel like this, but I swear: being a vegan or vegetarian person in Brazil is not that easy and sometimes we get stocked when we see that things can be easy and do work around the world. I will explain better. Since we moved to Dublin, I feel like living in heaven. Everything here is easier when we talk about vegetarian/vegan food (and lifestyle). There are a lot of reasons but I will talk about just one today.

Most of the products we buy here are from UK (yes, the vegan paradise) and EVERYTHING we buy has “suitable for vegetarians” or “suitable for vegetarians and vegans” written on the packaging. Even an orange juice. This is so amazing to me! If you think this is stupid, let me show you how it is in Brazil: you have to read ALL INGREDIENTS of everything you buy and sometimes you are not sure if something is 100% vegetarian or not. Sometimes you have to come back home with a doubt and call the costumer service or write an email to know what exactly is used in the product. Sounds bad? Can be worse. When you go to a place, like a restaurant, you have to ask about everything to know if you can eat anything. And people lie to you. We started to tell everybody that we have allergy to convince them that we don't want meat or cheese or eggs in our food.

So, to me, it's really a big deal to see all informations (besides the “suitable...” sentence all products have an “allergy advice” too) written in all products I want to buy and see menus with vegetarian options in most of the places we go to eat. It is a step ahead from my Brazilian reality.

I really hope that one day in the (near) future we can see this kind of thing everywhere.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Go vegan!

Today is the International Animal Rights Day.
Still a lot to fight.

Go vegan, my dear friends!

Monday, 8 December 2008

All about... small differences

This last weekend we did at home one of the things I like more when we decide to cook: try different versions of already known recipes. As I always say we are not great cook people, but we like to create, to try new options. Sometimes the final result is bad, but most of the times we do succeed!

On Saturday I cooked a green lasagna. We had a lot of spinach at home and, you know, we love Italian food! Well, first I decided to make a sauce with flavored soy protein mince (like a bolognese sauce), but I changed my mind and mixed some spinach with water and salt and then added the soy protein mince. First part done. When I started to layer the lasagna up, I decided to add one more layer of spinach leaves. I also mixed more spinach with soy cream to put on the top of the last lasagna filling layer, but I decided instead to use it right on each layer of lasagna base to leave it softer after baking. And as last layer, I used this mix of spinach and soy cream plus small slices of vegan cheddar. The final result was amazing (the picture is not that good, but believe me, it was delicious!).

Carrying on our experiences in the kitchen, on Sunday night Matteo decided to cook spaghetti for our dinner. First, he had decided to use eggplant for the sauce. Well, we still had some spinach left, so he mixed it with the eggplant and did a great and different sauce. It looked like a pesto sauce, green and with a strong taste. I liked it a lot!

This is something I tell everybody to do: try different things. Not just when cooking, but in your life. Small differences can make your day really better!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

A little bit about... Paris

In January of 2007 we (me and my husband) went for the first time to Paris, it was our delayed honey-moon. I have to say that the city is everything people say, is everything you see on the movies... Well, Paris is everything! We spent just three days there and it was enough to have lot of great memories.

But lets talk about the food, the vegan food. We went there by ourselves, with no friends in the city or somebody to help us with the places to go. All we had was a map and the website Happy Cow. It was the first time we were consulting it too.

First day, we took some notes and went out. The restaurant we went that day was a macrobiotic one, called Grand Appetit. When we arrived there, a woman helped us because we don't speak French. She said we did a great choice, that the restaurant was amazing. We asked the most popular meal and took a seat. What can I tell you? I think I am not a fan of macrobiotic food. Not at all. Neither my husband. If you like this kind of food, probably it's really the best place to go (it has always great reviews at Happy Cow). Well, coming back to our adventure, that day we left the place still hungry and stopped at a small and nice store (close to Pompidou Museum) and we bought tons of vegan food to take to the hotel.

On our second day, we decided to try our second option in our precious list: La Victoire Supreme du Coeur. This place is absolutely amazing! It is top 1 at Happy Cow and I have to agree with them. The place is beautiful and fine. And the food is amazing! They have many options of vegan food and desserts and the best thing: they're opened at lunch and dinner time (until 22h30), everyday. And I saw now, checking their website, the place is now bigger and they have more vegan options. We went there the rest of the days we spent in Paris, to have lunch and dinner. If you go to Paris, you must go there at least once!

Hope we can come back to Paris soon and have more tips for you in here ;-)

Monday, 1 December 2008

Cooking with pleasure - Pics

Yesterday was an awesome day and I decided to cook. Nothing special, but we enjoyed our lunch!

Red peppers with soy + roasted french fries

Rice + beans + red peppers with soy + roasted french fries

Rice and beans is a typical Brazilian mix


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