Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Review: Alan Roettinger's Speed Vegan. Quick, Easy Recipes With a Gourmet Twist

In this post I review
Alan Roettinger's Speed Vegan. Quick, Easy Recipes With a Gourmet Twist

Speed Vegan by Alan Roettinger
Quick Easy Recipes With a Gourmet Twist

Alan Roettinger has been a private chef for prestige clients from entertainers to presidents. He has absorbed techniques and flavors from many cuisines through his extensive world travel. His first book, Omega-3 cuisine, showcased his ability to bring taste and health together. In this book he shows that anyone can cook fresh, delicious and visually pleasing vegan gourmet food, prepared from healthy, minimally processed ingredients, even if they have very little time.

In his introduction, Alan explains that the while the main function of his book would be to showcase quick, easy recipes for people who are pressed for time, writing the book was a bit of a challenge for him. His personal philosophy is to plan well and start early! He tries to show you how to prepare food "the right way" while insisting there is no "right way" other than using the best ingredients, techniques and flavors and refusing to cut corners or try to save money on inferior ingredients, habits which devalue your final product.
Alan started out to write a vegan cookbook even though he wasn't a vegan. He states that he still considers himself an omnivore but has taken on a strict vegan diet. Alan, how is that going for you? We'd love an update!

Alan encourages us not to be intimidated by cooking. "If ...people could do it with stone knives and clay pots, surelyyou will be able to do it with todays refined tools". Inspiring!

The minimalist Essential Kitchen Equipment chapter is broken down into three sections: Must Haves, Hard Time Working Without and Makes Work More Fun. It's a bare-bones list; I actually have everything on the lists except a microplaner. I think most people who do any cooking at all will have almost every thing on these lists, too. If not, there isn't anything exotic or hard to find and there is a list of online resources in the back of the book.

Stocking the Vegan Pantry is where the going might get a little tough. There are staple ingredients listed which are, while not exactly exotic, may have to be ordered if you live in a small town like we do. Anyone who lives in a city where there are specialty grocery stores or markets shouldn't have any problem. The list is broken down into levels of stability, from items with very long shelf life, like dried mushrooms right down to things that need to be kept frozen.The descriptions are fun to read and thorough, I've learned a lot from this book, and, of course, there is a list of online resources in the back of the book.

Jump Starts is my favorite chapter because time-conscious meal planning, unless you BUY pre-made ingredients, takes a little behind the scenes preparation. In spare time (like at 3am when you can't sleep because you're worried about what you will take to the omnivore picnic) you make basic ingredents to have on hand so later you can put them together with fresh vegetables, pasta or grains to make fantastic meals. Some stand out recipes are Garlic Oil, Roasted Garlic Puree, Hot Red Pepper Sauce, Sun-Dried Tomato Paste and Balsamic Vinagrette.

Snacks. This section contains dips, spreads, chutney and other things you might put on crackers, bread or papadums. It also has a recipe for Tempeh Sticks that are deep fried in coconut oil and served with a coconut-peanut sauce that I'm sure even the most hardcore tempeh disliker would enjoy.

Soups. I love soup. Autumn is upon us and a warm soup is great when weather is in transition. This section contains classics you love (or will love) like Leek and Parsnip, Navy Bean and Swiss Chard and exciting combinations like Tuscan Kale and Coconut soup with Tofu.

The hefty Salad chapter is the biggest in the book, weighing in at 34 pages! There are leafy salads, slaws, fruit salads, pasta, bean and grain salads, salads from many nations, mushroom, warm and cold salads, wild greens and sprouts salads. Main dish, side or dessert, no aspect of salad is left untouched. A great meal planning companion just for the endless salad ideas. A quote "Fennel is an appetite enhancer, a digestive aid, and a palalte clenser, but most importantly, it's freaking delicious." I couldn't have said it better myself, Alan!

Next is Pasta and Grains. Using a wide variety of pastas and grains paired with vegetables you might not eat every day, this section is bound to widen the repertoire of dishes you bring to potlucks! Seriously, though, simple recipes with easy to follow instructions are the order of the day for this chapter with dishes like Orecchiette With Herb Sauce (Orecchiette is a kind of home-made pasta typical of Puglia, Apulia, a region of Southern Italy. See, you're learning stuff already!) and a simple Linguine With Sundried Tomato Sauce
to a very hearty Brown Rice and Carrots with Natto Miso. Flavorful ingredients and bold textures combine seamlessly. If you make it through this section and the salad section (that's more recipes than I care to count) we'll get started on:

Vegetables and Legumes . Asparagus with Canneli Beans, Mashed Aloo Gobi, two kinds of Mashed Potatoes. This chapter could take you from main dish to side dish easily enough on it's own. Black Beans, Mushrooms and  Bok Choy, where have you been all my life! There are some great dishes here that could be incorporated into vegan holiday meals. I don't know about you but I always bring my own food and most of these would travel quite well and be good warm or room temp.

The Sweets section is impressive. Fancy desserts you could serve at an small dinner party and really see everyone's reaction. Little pieces of art like Nutty Chocolate Balls, Spiced Pears in Wine and two vegan sorbet recipes, Spiced Pear Sorbet and Coconut-Banana Sorbet. I really like the Aztec Hot Chocolate Spicy! I want some now.

There are a lot of health-mined original recipes in this book and better than that, there are ideas in this book. Speed Vegan will kick-start your boring vegan rut and make you learn more about some foods you might not have tried otherwise.

"You take from a recipe, but you GIVE to a dish" ~Alan Roettinger

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The Philosophy of Animal Rights by Tom Regan

The other animals humans eat, use in science, hunt, trap, and exploit in a variety of ways, have a life of their own that is of importance to them apart from their utility to us. They are not only in the world, they are aware of it. What happens to them matters to them. Each has a life that fares better or worse for the one whose life it is.

That life includes a variety of biological, individual, and social needs. The satisfaction of these needs is a source of pleasure, their frustration or abuse, a source of pain. In these fundamental ways, the nonhuman animals in labs and on farms, for example, are the same as human beings. And so it is that the ethics of our dealings with them, and with one another, must acknowledge the same fundamental moral principles.

At its deepest level, human ethics is based on the independent value of the individual: The moral worth of any one human being is not to be measured by how useful that person is in advancing the interest of other human beings. To treat human beings in ways that do not honor their independent value is to violate that most basic of human rights: the right of each person to be treated with respect.

The philosophy of animal rights demands only that logic be respected. For any argument that plausibly explains the independent value of human beings implies that other animals have this same value, and have it equally. And any argument that plausibly explains the right of humans to be treated with respect, also implies that these other animals have this same right, and have it equally, too.

It is true, therefore, that women do not exist to serve men, blacks to serve whites, the poor to serve the rich, or the weak to serve the strong. The philosophy of animal rights not only accepts these truths, it insists upon and justifies them.

But this philosophy goes further. By insisting upon and justifying the independent value and rights of other animals, it gives scientifically informed and morally impartial reasons for denying that these animals exist to serve us.

Once this truth is acknowledged, it is easy to understand why the philosophy of animal rights is uncompromising in its response to each and every injustice other animals are made to suffer.

It is not larger, cleaner cages that justice demands in the case of animals used in science, for example, but empty cages: not "traditional" animal agriculture, but a complete end to all commerce in the flesh of dead animals; not "more humane" hunting and trapping, but the total eradication of these barbarous practices.

For when an injustice is absolute, one must oppose it absolutely. It was not "reformed" slavery that justice demanded, not "reformed" child labor, not "reformed" subjugation of women. In each of these cases, abolition was the only moral answer. Merely to reform injustice is to prolong injustice.

The philosophy of animal rights demands this same answer - abolition - in response to the unjust exploitation of other animals. It is not the details of unjust exploitation that must be changed. It is the unjust exploitation itself that must be ended, whether on the farm, in the lab, or among the wild, for example. The philosophy of animal rights asks for nothing more, but neither will it be satisfied with anything less.

Haiku Disclaimer

This works for me now
Find your own path and never
Take advice from fools

Insprirational Vegan Quotes

1. Animals that live in the wild kill other animals in order to eat. If I also lived in the wild would it still be inhumane to kill an animal to eat?? What about if I raised chickens in my backyard and cultivated their eggs for my breakfast omelet, is this inhumane?
A: Because animal flesh and products are not needed for human nutrition killing and eating them is inhumane in any circumstances. No kind of slavery is humane no matter how well the slave is treated. You can't respect someone and then exploit her for her eggs/milk/honey.

2. Do animal rights moralists take into consideration the domestication of animals i.e. history of farming, farming as the back bone to the establishment of the first civilizations. There’s not much literature about the reasons animals have become a central part of human life?
A: History is no excuse to continue to exploit non humans. Animals are not needed for human nutrition. That is a myth perpetuated by industries which make money exploiting non human animals.

3. Is domestication against animals rights? If so, does that make having a dog or cat or horse inhumane?
A: At this time there are a lot of domesticated animals that need tending. Most domesticated animals are just that. They would not exist as we know them if not for domestication. Breeding animals for pets or for food is unnecessary and inhumane. Adopt animals, have them spayed or neutered. Give them a comfortable home where they can live out their lives without being exploited. With time the numbers of "non-food" and "food" animals will go down and eventually there will be no more domesticated food animals or pets.

Ethical veganism results in a profound revolution within the individual; a complete rejection of the paradigm of oppression and violence that she has been taught from childhood to accept as the natural order. It changes her life and the lives of those with whom she shares this vision of nonviolence. Ethical veganism is anything but passive; on the contrary, it is the active refusal to cooperate with injustice. ~Gary L. Francione

Merely by ceasing to eat meat

Merely by practicing restraint
We have the power to end a painful industry

We do not have to bear arms to end this evil
We do not have to contribute money
We do not have to sit in jail or go to
meetings or demonstrations or
engage in acts of civil disobedience
Most often, the act of repairing the world,
of healing mortal wounds,
is left to heroes and tzaddikim (holy people)
Saints and people of unusual discipline
But here is an action every mortal can
perform--surely it is not too difficult! ~Roberta Kalechofsky of Jews for Animal Rights

The ten commandments of Mother Earth

1. Thou shall love and honor the Earth for it blesses thy life and governs thy survival.
2. Thou shall keep each day sacred to the Earth and celebrate the turning of its seasons.
3. Thou shall not hold thyself above other living things nor drive them to extinction.
4. Thou shall give thanks for thy food, to the creatures and plants that nourish thee.
5. Thou shall educate thy offspring for multitudes of people are a blessing unto the Earth when we live in harmony.
6. Thou shall not kill, nor waste Earth's riches upon weapons of war.
7. Thou shall not pursue profit at the Earth's expense but strive to restore its damaged majesty.
8. Thou shall not hide from thyself or others the consequences of thy actions upon the Earth.
9. Thou shall not steal from future generations by impoverishing or poisoning the Earth.
10. Thou shall consume material goods in moderation so all may share the Earth's bounty. ~Ernest Callenbach

"This is what passes for "food" in America today: A collection of nutritionally-obliterated, hormonally-enhanced, chemically-adulterated shapes of refined whatever, all hyped up to make them seem like real food when in fact they're just agricultural byproducts devoid of any real nutrition." ~Mike Adams

"I like not eating animals. Animals are our friends and we shouldn't eat them. Animals need us to take care of them and save them. My mom cooks us vegetables and pretend hamburgers and hotdogs and chicken nuggets and they are healthy for you and taste good! I told all my friends 'you should NOT eat animals!' I hit my friend Levi because he was eating a ham sandwich and wouldn't stop. Then mom said that Levi is an animal too and we have to be nice to all animals even if they eat other animals. I said sorry to Levi, but I wish he would not eat animals anymore. I also like not eating animals because my mom says it helps the earth, like recycling." ~Jacob, 6 yrs old

You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.~Anthony Robbins

It only takes a spark
~Daniel Andreas San Diego

Some people are still going to want to eat meat. We do agree though that vegetarianism is a healthier diet.
~David Stroud (of the American Meat Institute)

For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts ;

even one thing befall them: as the one dies, so dies the other. They have all one breath; so that a man has no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows that the spirit of man goes upward, and the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth? ~Ecclesiastes iii., 19, 20, 21.

There is no such thing as cruelty free slaughter or humane killing.
No slave is happy no matter what the owner tells you.
Go Vegan NOW!
Do it for the cows that have their babies taken away again and again for milk production.
Do it for the chickens who are de-beaked for egg production.
Do it for the pigs who have to nurse their babies on concrete floors.
Do it for the millions of humans who don't know any better.
Do it for the planet.
Do it for your health.

Do it because there is NO SUCH THING as humane slaughter.~
Judith Barnes

Auschwitz begins whenever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they're only animals.

~Theodor Adorno

If only I could so live and so serve the world that after me there should never again be birds in cages.
~Isak Dinesen (pen name of Karen Blixen), author (1885-1962)

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
~Anne Frank

If "rights" exist at all— and both feeling and usage indubitably prove that they do exist —they cannot be consistency awarded to men and denied to animals, since the same sense of justice and compassion apply in both cases.
~Henry Salt, 1892

You ask people why they have deer heads on the wall. They always say, Because it's such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother's attractive, but I have photographs of her.
~Ellen DeGeneres

A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.
~Leo Tolstoy

Raw foods create living bodies, and cooked foods create dying bodies
~Sabrina Aird, Grass Root co-owner

You say it’s my personal choice, it’s not a personal choice when you’re ruining my planet and you’re eating my friends
~ Dave Warwak

The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites, or women created for men.
~ Alice Walker

Thou Shalt Not Kill
~ The Christian Bible

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy; if the world were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I wake up each morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it very hard to plan the day.
~E. B. White

Don’t want to ruin the oceans? Go vegan.
Don’t like the environmental problems of the soy industry? Go vegan.
Don’t like monoculture? Go vegan.
Don’t like the environmental problems of the petroleum industry? Go vegan.
Don’t like greenhouse gas emission? Go vegan.
Don’t like animal exploitation and cruelty? Go vegan.
Want environmental sustainability? Go vegan.
Want to feed the hungry? Go vegan.
Want to save water? Go vegan.
Want to cut air and water pollution? Go vegan.
Want to slow global warming? Go vegan.
Want to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, and cancer? Go vegan.
There is no absolutely single personal change that the average person can make that has a better impact on the environment than going vegan.
~Dan Cudahy

Honey is not vegan. It is an animal product, it came from the inside of an animal that produced it, not for you to sweeten your tea, but for a baby bee to live and grow on. Using honey or products made with beeswax are not on the vegan menu.

What is it that should trace the insuperable line? ...The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?

~Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)

Can you really ask what reason Pythagoras had for abstaining from flesh? For my part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of soul or mind the first man did so, touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature, he who set forth tables of dead, stale bodies and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived.

How could his eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit and hides flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the stench? How was it that the pollution did not turn away his taste, which made contact with the sores of others and sucked juices and serums from mortal wounds?

It is certainly not lions and wolves that we eat out of self-defense; on the contrary, we ignore these and slaughter harmless,tame creatures without stings or teeth to harm us, creatures that, I swear, Nature appears to have produced for the sake of their beauty and grace.

But nothing abashed us, not the flower-like like tinting of the flesh, not the persuasiveness of the harmonious voice, not the cleanliness of their habits or the unusual intelligence that may be found in the poor wretches.

No, for the sake of a little flesh we deprive them of sun, of light, of the duration of life to which they are entitled by birth and being.~Plutarch

I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil.~Charles Mayo (founder of the Mayo Clinic)

Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places.~Leonardo Da Vinci