The (Vegan) Body: Consumed and Coping

IMG_5430

I got new vegan combat boots! I’m so proud! Needed a good pair of weekend shoes, and I think these fit the bill just nicely.

I’ve got a few good links to share with you all today. Lots of reading around these parts, as always. After getting my feet wet with the whole graduate school thing last semester, let’s hope I can successfully intermingle my voracity for the written word with my other responsibilities. Starting NOW!

Ali Seiter’s “Veganism and Consumerism” was posted just before Christmas, at a time when rampant consumerism seems to completely over take everything everywhere. I’m 100% of the mindset that if you don’t like a system, put your money into one that you believe in and Ali synthesizes those sentiments and their relationships beautifully in this reflective little post with a bibliography! I love bibliographies! Side note, I really love how this lady always has sources to share. Well documented sources. My nerdy scholarly brain does cartwheels of glee. Also, several of the links I’m sharing today I found on one of Ali’s own reading lists.

Also along the lines of consumed: my new personal project, Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor as Maura a 68 year old trans woman in the process of coming out and coming to terms with her gender identity. I’m 100% enthralled by this show, even though I 110% agree that there are a hefty dose of problems that come along with the show i.e. that Maura is portrayed by a white cis gendered man (who I think is brilliant in this role by the way) and shows the story of a white, well off and well educated trans woman and her family who are all incredibly privileged and self-centered. I’ve read all of these recaps of the show, and I plan to re-watch all 10 episodes with the analyses of each and this article on a few of the social justice issues in Transparent in mind.

IMG_5432

I’m not the only one who’s stoked about the boots…

While Rebel Grrrl Living’s “Coping with Eating Guilt, Toxic Comments, and Triggers” was written in light of the holidays, it’s a great reminder to keep yourself on track during this time of New Year’s resolutions and a lot of very verbal lamenting about bodies, weight, and shape.

 A short list this time around, but food for thought nonetheless. A happy little balance for this hectic week, if you ask me. Starting to really get back into the swing of things of the new semester and get my feet wet with readings and balancing my healthy eating, work outs and other endeavors with the responsibilities of my scholastic routine. More on this to come, as I hope to share some of the ways that I do this, including a look at my daily eating during the week and how I prep/plan that part of my life. Stay tuned!

Pho Show

In college, my best friend and I used to go to this Vietnamese joint in town all of the time. There was a summer when I think we were there at least once per week. What brought us there? The pho. Suspended in a light, rich broth in a nest of rice noodles were tofu, greens, and vegetables awaiting sriracha, soy sauce, lime juice, chili oil, and handfuls of fresh mung bean sprouts and basil leaves torn right into the bowl. This is how I first tried coconut water, and I first found that delicious rooster sauce that’s always in my refrigerator.

Pho is something I find myself craving a lot these days in the darker winter months that have been rainy and gray these past few weeks. It rained a lot that summer too, so the weather seems to bring back that nostalgia and desire for a giant bowl of unami ridden goodness. I’m always in search of a tasty pho place in town, but I haven’t ventured out to one yet. I will, in due course. But in the meantime, following with my goal to make a new recipe each week, I made my own pho.

IMG_5312

While my soup had a miso base and I suppose couldn’t technically be classified as the classic clear-broth based soup I think of when I think of pho, it was delicious and totally hit the spot nonetheless.

4 cups veggie broth (I used homemade)

2 tablespoons red miso

1 package rice noodles, cooked, drained and rinsed

1 cup fresh kale

1 carrot, grated

1/2 cup sliced shiitakes

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions

1/2 block tofu

2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sriracha

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1″ knob fresh ginger, skinned and minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

more sriracha, soy sauce, mung bean sprouts, lime wedges, and fresh basil (optional) for garnish

Combine tamari, sriracha, vinegar, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Slice tofu into 1/8″ thick slices, then cut diagonally to form triangles. Place in a flat baking dish and pour marinade over the slices, allowing flavors to mingle for at least 1 hour. In a frying pan over medium heat the tablespoon of olive oil. Add shiitakes and sauté until lightly browned, lower heat and add the tofu and marinade and allow everything to reduce. In a soup pot, bring veggie broth, ginger, and garlic to a simmer, then add miso paste, kale, onions, cooked noodles and carrots. Serve immediately, and top with glazed tofu and shiitakes. Add more sriracha and soy sauce to your bowl if desired and/or top with mung bean sprouts, fresh basil, and a squeeze of lime.

IMG_5311

This bowl was GIANT, and made 2 hefty servings of pho that filled and satisfied on both occasions of rainy Florida evenings. I went sans basil and the other garnishes as the miso really thickened this soup up and made it a much heartier pho with complex flavors. That being said, part of the pho allure is the ability to change your bowl (or spoonful!) as you eat and I just love the colors that come from adding chili sauce and fresh basil to a bowl. Leave out the miso if this is your preferred pho style, and garnish away!

IMG_5314

Reflecting on Respite

IMG_5377Oof. It is so, so incredibly hard for me to let myself take a break. That is a huge aspect of my restorative winter recess that I failed to mention: how difficult it’s been for me to let myself relax in the past. For some reason, this time around taking about a month away from academia and 2 full weeks away from my job has been surprisingly easy. Graduate school is just so concentrated, like a spoonful of miso straight out of the tub, that you’ve got to at least take a sip of water afterward. That being said, I do love miso and I’m often caught eating tiny scoops from the container, but miso is best served cut with other ingredients. Graduate school is best served thinned out a bit too. I had a huge chunk of miso in my life “soup” at the beginning of December, so it’s taken a good bit of veggie broth to compensate.

IMG_5418

Vegan similes aside, having a month off of academia has been lovely. I’ve been able to recharge my batteries and really and truly relax after the first semester of my graduate career. I feel so lucky to have been able to do that. I did travel a bit right in the middle around the holidays, but this past week has consisted primarily of me holed up in my apartment, making a few excursions here and there to venture out. As much as I love this empty time — a giant temporal space filled with endless possibilities — I’ve rediscovered that my type-A personality loves to be busy. It makes me feel alive.

IMG_5363

My New Year’s day meal. This was SO GOOD!

So, at the beginning of this winter recess, I had to force myself to relax. Going straight from polishing up 20 page papers to forced nothingness was a huge jolt, one I’d forgotten about during my year off, and a change of pace that is even more pronounced with the higher level of course work in which I am involved. But gosh, I found myself (as I always have) loving that newly remembered jolt. I pretty much did the same things I always do, even when I’m in class plus working plus research assisting: I cooked, I read Game of Thrones, I watched Criminal Minds, I worked out for 30-45 minutes a day, played with the cat, sang to Stevie Nicks in the car. These little practices are the water that cuts my academic miso during the semester, but without a hefty daily dose of academia these things gleamed even brighter. I took a lot more time to prepare my food. Instead of reading for 30 minutes, I got to read for 3 hours. My workouts felt cleansing, a way of moving my body to prepare for mindful relaxation instead of a way to literally work out the stresses of the day.

IMG_5290

Having naught to do in a day other than your favorite things — taking away what my dad always called the “have-to’s” and fore fronting the “want-to’s” made me realize how important my want-to’s are to me. They’re not obligations, I don’t get paid for them, I’m not required to do the reading for them, but in some ways they are still things I have to do. I have to do them because I want to do them, because I love them, and because they bring me endless respite and so much peace in the wildness of this world.

IMG_5398

I hope that you too have the chance to forefront your want-to’s today. On this Wednesday, I head back to class for the start of another semester. I’m excited and I feel refreshed and ready to take on a new set of challenges and expectations. I love the learning that comes with this newness. But I won’t forget my want-to’s — because in so many ways it’s the want-to’s that make everything else possible.

The (Vegan) Body: Recovered, strong, well-read

IMG_5243

Hello! Happy New Year! I’ve been doing a lot of internet reading over the past couple of weeks, but I’ve only gleaned a few links that I really love to share with you all. Many of my readings have just been for kicks these days, without agenda. What a luxury that is! But of course I couldn’t help but collect a few articles to share with you all here.

We’re entering a time of the year that’s always a mixed bag for me. What I refer to as “The Month of New Year’s Resolutions.” That time of year when folks all over the globe are purging from the fabled holiday gluttony, or are trying to lose weight and get (back) into shape. Oof, that word: shape. What a loaded term. Its one I use often in my own academic writing because art is filled with shapes, but to me it only perpetuates and connotes the idea that humans should be of a certain shape, and that some shapes aren’t acceptable. Cult of thinness, you coming prowling around once again.

As we enter The Month of New Year’s Resolutions, I challenge you to stay strong. Stick to your goals, but do so in a way that makes you happy and makes you feel good about what you’re doing. Don’t conform to anybody else’s standards, and don’t let someone else’s progress at the gym suddenly become a measure for how you should be doing or what you should look like. Set goals for yourself, and don’t try and resolve the way you are. Strive to achieve, not fix. Empower, not diminish, strengthen instead of reduce. Try and think about the long term, not just quick fixes to shed a few pounds or suddenly organize your overflowing desk, bookshelf, or life. Think about enacting sustainable, lasting change that will only foster your own health, happiness, strength, and growth. Think of this as just the beginning, not a boot camp. Best, of luck and keep me posted!

Without further ado, here are a few fantastic articles I’ve been dying to share with you all. Spanning body awareness to Susan Sontag, I’m pretty proud of the little reading list I’ve compiled for you, interspersed with some photos of my quiet little staycation. Enjoy!

IMG_5227_2

Gena Hamshaw’s blog, Choosing Raw, always serves as such a source of inspiration for me. Her open mindedness and honesty about her recovery from an eating disorder is poignant, raw, and truly inspiring. I think that a lot of ED honesty, or even visibility/awareness tends to get swept under the rug because it’s a vulnerable, uncomfortable topic to talk or write about publicly. Her recent post titled “The Two Phases of my Recovery” epitomizes what I feel is a beautifully positive and supportive approach to disordered eating on the blogosphere and is a salient story for anyone who has struggled with any type of food related anxiety, controlled, or obsessive eating habits. Also, she uses a Rothko as the header image which makes this little art historian smile goofily from ear to ear.

How many times have we seen some studly dude (I’m thinking of you, John Wayne!) slurping down whiskey in the movies?! Not, it’s not just for cis gendered straight men, folks. Booze is for everyone. Love this NPR article about the “Whiskey Renaissance” and some of the ladies leading the way. Speaking of fancy schmany spirits, one of my favorites, bourbon, is on the rise as well. And they need more barrels.

In that same vein, along the lines of tasty artisanal things, I’ve heard a lot of press (yay! Visibility!) on the first vegan butcher shop in the U.S. Pretty badass, if you ask me.

IMG_5221_2

End of the year lists always baffle me to some extent. Some I find harrowing, others just plain annoying, but a few — just a few — in my mind are golden. Loving this list of the “Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books from 2014.” Thrilled to see my beloved Caitlin Doughty on the list with her Smoke Gets in Your EyesShe’s such a badass.

Speaking of badassery, Susan Sontag. My intellectual idol and hands down who I want to be when I grow up. I’ve loved seeing more and more media coverage of this lady lately (thank you HBO for doing a documentary on her, that does help). Marking a decade since her death was done beautifully in this short, pithy little write up on the Hairpin.

Enjoy the reading! And if you made some goals to begin tackling this January, best of luck with them!