French Style Coq au Jus

The Cheese is Real

Bonjour!

This recipe is inspired by the utmost scrumptious French dish, coq au vin. The patrons of the meal preferred to be without wine, so I did the best I could, putting an entirely new spin on the dish.

I got the inspiration from these two videos.

What you’ll need (per serving)

  • one chicken breast
  • plenty of fresh/dried thyme (a handful perhaps)
  • plenty of fresh/dried rosemary (a bit less than a handful)
  • 1 tbsp of onion powder/ 1/4 cup onion (I used a combination)
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder/1 clove of smashed garlic
  • 1 lime or lemon (lemon is preferred)
  • 1 tbsp lemon pepper
  • half a potato
  • 1 tomato

First and foremost, I heat the oven to 400 degrees (F). I then combined my fresh, powdered, and dry herbs in a shallow pan. I then poured approximately 1/3 cup water and a dash of oil to this mixture. I brought it…

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The Merchant of Darkness, aka Chocolate Chai Cupcakes

Fun Recipes! Check this Blog Out!

The Cheese is Real

My long-awaited chocolate cupcake recipe! If I were to do this again (because I totally will), I’d make sure to ADD MORE FRIGGIN CHOCOLATE.

  • 1 1/4 Cup Hot Water
  • 1/2 Cup Butter (melted)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Bags Chai Tea / Spiced Cardamom Tea
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • a tad Vanilla Extract
  • a [huge] handful of Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tbsp of sugar

Preheat oven to 370 degrees.

Steep the tea bags in the hot water until it becomes dark and aromatic (basically heaven in a cup).

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Follow the instructions as directed by the all too-colorful box. Substitute the vegetable oil for the butter, and add vanilla extract and eggs. Mix the wet ingredients well. Then add your steeped chai tea WHILE MIXING, taking care not to scramble the eggs. Gently fold in the cake mix and mix until combined.

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Now we get funky.

Begin to add chocolate chips and pumpkin pie…

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Going Vegan for Lent

A quick look at a recent infographic suggests that the vegan lifestyle and diet is slowly becoming more popular. Defined as a person who does not eat or use animal products, vegans cut out dairy products like cheese and animal-derived foods like meat for a variety of reasons. Based on a survey of over eight thousand vegans, 42.01 percent became vegan after watching educational films that promoted vegan lifestyles; many of these demonstrated the animal cruelty that is present in the food processing industry as 69.76 percent of vegans credit their lifestyles to animals. Although meat consumption has decreased by 12.2 percent, according to the Huffington Post, yet 17 percent of global meat consumption is attributed to American diets.

These are shocking numbers, even now.

Every year, millions of Catholics like myself and other Liturgical Christians participate in the Lent (the act of fasting  for a 40 day period). I hadn’t expected to participate in it this year, nor did I expect the radical change to going vegan. Ash Wednesday came, and I made the oddly specific, unprecedented decision to change my diet.

On the first day of fasting, I created a blog, where I would record my daily interactions and reflections as I continued my journey.

“I’m not giving up Big Macs and cheese sticks to just make a point or to try something out. I’ve invested my time and health; this is merely a waste if I’m not learning anything about myself, my body, and my perception of the world.”

Within the first week, I didn’t know what exactly to expect. It was mid-winter break, so I knew the real challenge would occur when I returned to school.

Not so.

My friends and family were all so supportive, but there were still nights where I chose not to eat versus eating adulterated food.

Energy levels and fitful sleep increased, and for that I am grateful. However, these benefits were short lived.

The key to a healthy diet change is to supplement the vitamins and calories lost in your new foods. This is easier said than done. Towards the last weeks of my fast, I began to feel the effects of slowly malnourishing myself.

“I’m still extremely sick and slightly emotionally unstable. My appetite is absolutely gone when it comes time for my usual meals, but pops up when I least need it (like when I’m trying to study and start craving curry potatoes).” Day 42.

I went to the doctor exactly once during this time; her response only to eat. I was going through a lot at this time. It was way too easy to put work and other people’s needs over that of my own health. Eating more seemed to be to simple to be taken seriously.

I believe I still deal with the repercussions of this, over a month later.

“I try to conjure up the taste of steak for example, and all I can feel is the sickening blood of it’s rarity. I try to imagine the taste of cheese, but all I can think of is the acrid smell and the slice stilling and sitting grossly in my mouth. Granted, I’m not dreaming of corn right now, but it’s certainly not meat.” Day 38.

Easter soon came and went. A quick calculation revealed that in my seven weeks of fasting, I had saved 28 animals. One for each of my followers at the time. I learned so much about myself, about others, and the entire experience was so incredibly eye-opening. In addition to saving 28 animals, my experiences were able to help countless readers on my site; one user so inspired by my journey that she would try veganism herself.

“That being said, I’m not inflicting my opinions here to accuse and change anyone. That’s not why I write this, why I started this blog, or why I went vegan for lent. I want to inform people through my perspective. I want them to be aware and unapologetic.” Day 38.

Final Day. 4 April 2015.

Here we are.

I’ve had all day to think of what to write, and now that I’m here, I’m not sure what to say.

I’ve got a bit of a confession.

A while back, a post on Facebook had caught my eye. It was titled something along the lines of “the video the meat industry doesn’t want you to see” and it had a picture of Jared Leto (a man who looks like Jesus, basically), who is also vegan. I have to admit this picture drew me in.

So I watched the video: a detailed look inside commercial animal farming and slaughter houses. Some parts of the video were particularly hard to watch; I did cringe. I remember refusing to turn it off or to pause the images so I could compose myself, to better rid them from my mind.

I remember promptly having pork chops that evening.

I remember rationalizing my actions, the actions of those in the video.  I reasoned that animals were kept that way because it was the most economical, and made millions of people like myself happy everyday.

Going Vegan for Lent has taught me that you can’t rationalize your feelings. That you can’t take the most purest expression of human nature and justify it with fancy psychological terms and types. Maybe everything can be attributed to science, societal evolution, to God, even. But it doesn’t mean that you must live your life that way.

When I made the decision to change my diet, it wasn’t a pre-meditated, planned out ordeal (though I had flippantly considered it before hand). I felt like going vegan, so I did. Perhaps it’s because I’m young; perhaps it’s because I’m pretty used to eating little. I didn’t think. Only felt.

Watching that video, it’s difficult to see why anyone would still eat animal-based products. It’s impossible to not be disturbed, to not be provoked into some sort of reflective thought.

How can I go back to living the way I did after accepting that kind of carnage?

The answer is, I won’t.

I’m not going to think the same way I did 46 days ago because I’m not the same person I was all those days ago.

I’ll resume a normal diet tomorrow, yes, as it’s a matter of convenience and consequently, in the best interest of my health. I was told that I’m apparently at risk for developing an eating disorder. I may do this all again permanently when life is more stable, and I’m able to fully embrace a vegan lifestyle–not just diet.

According to PETA, one vegan saves approximately 198 animals every year. I divided this by 364.25 days and multiplied that quotient by 46 days. The result was about 25 animals, which doesn’t feel nearly as significant.

Picture the 25 most important people in your life right now, or any situation in which you were in a group with 25 people.

Now. Imagine them all dead.

Imagine them all ripped, suckling, from their mother’s breast, thrown naked into a pin and raised on sickening growth enhancers and no-concept of nurture. Imagine them going mad, smashing their heads into the iron of their cages. Imagine ten of them dead before anyone notices. Imagine them being greeted with the sweet relief of death, yet enduring cruel minutes of throat-slitting and muscle spasms before Death ever comes.

That’s the condensed version, as I have a confession to tell.

Shortly after this, I began thinking, completely out of the blue. What if I were to write about what happened to those animals? That matured into the question of, What if I was one of those animals?

What if there was a dystopian society where cultures and supremacy had become so divided that some groups were considered not even human, below more priveledged members. For isn’t that how the majority of people think of animals, livestock? That these lower-beings were crowded like slaves, or prisoners, into filthy cages and sheltered lives. That they were cultivated and eaten, merely because they tasted good?

Just revisiting the morbid and cannibalistic thought sickens me, and I can confidently say it is one of the darkest thoughts to ever cross my mind.

I thought that if I were to write a novel under this premise that it would cause shock waves, and that I’d disgust and change the opinions of many people. I suddenly craved this controversy.

At that point, I, a very content omnivore, would be a hypocrite writing that novel. I was disappointed but couldn’t allow myself to indulge in hypocrisy.

I saved 25 animals. That IS the same as saving 25 people.

I’m a hero, guys.

Am I ever going to write that book? Nah. It’s not my place. Besides, it would never get published.

From this day on, I will acknowledge every bite of diary, egg, or meat that I take. I will feel that death, that forced sacrifice in every part of my being. This may come in the form of a prayer before every meal or a simple nod.

If you remember nothing from this poorly written post about Going Vegan for Lent, remember this: Don’t rationalize your feelings, your actions, or what ever you believe is good and evil in the world simply because you cannot care to understand it. If something is bad, do not allow yourself to be ignorant of it. If something is good, do not allow yourself to overthink it.

In the holy miracle that is Easter, allow yourself to be born again, maybe not in body, but in soul and mind.

I want to thank everyone who’s supported this journey, everyone who has stayed with me through sickness, sadness, late posts, and cupcakes. It also means a lot that I’ve saved more than one animal for every single person who’s followed me.

Happy Easter!

 

Day Forty Three. 2 April 2015.

I began my day with tea and pastries and am now refusing to end it similarly.

Perhaps I will think of something to have by the time I finish this post.

To anyone reading this right now, under no circumstances are you to put work or school or other people’s needs above your own health. It’s not worth getting sick or crying over. Take care of yourself first so that, adversely, you can be there for you and others.

It seems I’ve had to learn that the hard way, but the best lessons are self-taught as the worst problems are self-inflicted.

This comes after two weeks of perpetual stress and limiting eating (it’s a truly awful thing to do) and sleeping in the interest of eliminating problems. I’ve learned that those practices never help.

Applesauce sounds good.

Anyway, a few weeks back, I empathized making sure your vegan diet is in fact, healthy and balanced. It’s been difficult to follow this (more like hasn’t been followed at all), and I fear that the validity of my 40 day fast could be compromised. I feel like while I have been excluding animal based products, I haven’t been eating “vegan.”

Oatmeal!

This troubles me, yet there is little I can do about it know. Largely, this results from consequences out of my control (like being busy, not having access to a working stove). I hate feeling helpless.

I’m going to get off my soap box and eat now, lest I forget.

Thank you for your support!

Day Forty Two. 1 April 2015

I hate April.

It’s just a bad month for me.

I’m still extremely sick and slightly emotionally unstable. My appetite is absolutely gone when it comes time for my usual meals, but pops up when I least need it (like when I’m trying to study and start craving curry potatoes).

They are delicious, let me tell you.

Four more unofficial days until this diet is over. I plan to rejoice and slowly wean myself (this could take months) but I will not forget what I have learned on this journey.

Also, I plan to write an opinion piece summarizing what I’ve been through this Lenten season for a local newspaper. There, my story can reach even more people; I hope they’ll enjoy it like I do.

Thank you for your support!

Day Fourty One. 31 March 2015.

Ginger tea will be the death of me.

Last night, I was sneezing pretty badly so I woke up with a lot of fluids, causing a really sore throat. I took Loraditine on an empty stomach, but I did manage to pull together a ginger and rooibos herbal tea before school. This condition progressed, causing me to cut my school day short and pay a visit to the doctor.

She didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know and I ended up feeling worse as I left. I do remember being asked if I was on a special diet. I took this opportunity to explain that I was currently eating vegan.

She gave me a look.

I poorly tried to explain.

One of the reasons I was in that doctor’s office is because I had taken the volatile drug on an empty stomach. I wasn’t intending to miss breakfast; I enjoy food just as much as the other person does. My usual breakfast of oatmeal or fruit had ran out, and I didn’t have the time nor the energy to whip up the creative vegan breakfasts (I need eggplant bacon right now) that I shamelessly pin on Pinterest.

In my defense, the tea was exceptional.

And gingery.

The doctor asked me if I was trying to lose weight. As I’ve said before, I’m sitting at a very comfortable, semi ectomorphic 18.6 Body Mass Index (as of today), meaning I’ve lost 3 pounds in the past 41 days. Was I trying to lose weight? No, but isn’t that kind of inevitable.

She told me I needed to eat. I looked down at this point. What about the extra half hour I could be watching Dan Abrams offer his two sense on GMA? That doesn’t happen often. I could use that time and get more sleep. That would be nice.

I could think of a million other…productive things I could do before eating. I realized that of all the things that I had balanced in my life right now came before eating healthily, thinking positively, and getting enough sleep. It was such a simple revalation but with dire consequences.

As these vegan days come to an end, I hope to carry that lesson of balance with me.

Lesson of the day: Just eat the damned sandwich.

Thank you for your support!

Day Forty. 30 March 2015.

HA-HA!

I’ve done it! Forty full days of vegan pleasure and torture (but mostly pleasure).

I’m not done, actually.

When I originally set out to do this, I allowed myself to switch to a vegetarian diet when my birthday came. Yet, my rainy name-day came and passed. At this point, I never even thought to begin weaning myself.

I believe it took at least three weeks for my body to completely adjust to the new diet. It wasn’t that I rejected any of the foods; it was more like I was unused to relying on them so heavily.

When I do transition/withdraw (looking forward to a Spring Break with stomach problems!), there are a few things I may have to eliminate completely.

After lunch, I would always feel tired. This was especially harmful as two of my three core classes are after lunch. That’s been completely eliminated on this diet, but I’m not sure what specifically made the latter half of my day so…tiresome.

I’d like to say it’s milk, as I would learn to stay away from straight milk (uncooked as in glass form or cereal) during certain periods of the day. Some science will contests that human beings are not made to ingest dairy and while that may be true, I know for a fact what it does to me.

One thing that annoys me is whenever news outlets release to the public in their charming, sensational way, people automatically run with the information.

Let me explain.

A while ago, some study came out to say that grains like bread and whole rice inhibited weight loss. Because we Americans (I believe the majority of my readers are from the US) are so gosh-darn fat, bread sales plummeted and many started to turn away from a food that is so fundamental to our diets and even history (consider the symbolic, even Biblical value of bread or the fact that a third of the world’s population depends on rice).

I dismissed this pretty easily.

Whether or not grains are poor for health is still contested, and I can proudly say I am impartial to the decision.

A month or so ago, studies had shown that evil, “eat in moderation, and when I mean eat in moderation, I mean never, ever eat these foods “such as bacon or eggs turned out to be “not as bad as previously thought.”

I love science. It’s constantly changing, open to interpretation, and tangible, like a real person. I understand that ideas are understood and dismissed, but I think people should understand that these results are never final.

When nutritionists recommend you eat this and that, and get this much of this, but limit yourself on that, who are they really talking about? Are they talking of global standards in which a healthy person in Japan would have the same nutritional needs as someone in Germany? Maybe so, socially. I think we’ve evolved metabolically to a point where vague guidelines don’t cut it.

Did the nutritionist take a quick look at your blood levels and determine what you needed based on those. This is slightly better, but there is so much more past a sheet of computer-generated statistics.

This goes back to what I said about the decision to go vegan being completely your own, as it is your body.

Although I don’t have a degree to speak of, or even practical experience dealing with food systems, but I can tell you how my own body works and reacts, as I’ve been living with it my whole life. I’ve been learning to stop rationalizing my feelings, stripping everything of it’s humane values and making it into another statistic, a compilation of factors and big words to explain how I feel. While you shouldn’t ignore completely the numbers and facts spat at you by science and it’s mediator–technology, be able to understand what you need, not what you should need, and tweak into your own personal diet as you wish.

Only then will you fully appreciate the experience and be in touch with who you physically are.

Thank you for your support.

I need chickpeas.

Day Thirty Nine. 29 March 2015

Here’s another ridiculously late post.

I was really tired last night and I kind of knowingly had popcorn with butter and it was so disgusting that I had to quit after a couple of handfuls. I attribute to the fact that the butter and grease and special breathing of angels (why else would they be six dollars a bag?) was extremely rich.

I stuck to the un-cheesed nacho chips, thank you.

I ended up watching the Cinderella film last night and I’ve concluded that due to their affectionate and animal-centric nature that many of these female Disney protagonists would be vegan in real life.

What a romantic idea.

I also went to a local buffet to eat after church. I could hardly stomach the heavy calories that I was given.

And the applesauce, absolutely awful.

It’s kind of odd eating out, as you quite literally have to limit yourselves to the bare appetizers offered. It’s kind of pitiful actually. I wish that more restaurants had vegan options that consisted of more than chunks of lightly salted tofu and salad.

Lots of salads.

Thank you for your support!

Day Thirty Eight. 28 March 2015

I’ve made my decision.

Once Easter comes and passes, I will indeed break my fast, but I hope to continue with not only some of the foods that I’ve had during this time but with the knowledge and awareness that I’ve come to appreciate.

As these last few days flit by, I’m forced to look back on how quickly the time has passed and what specifically became of it. I never enjoyed the idea of keeping a diary until now.

To be honest, I’m a really nostalgic person. I’ve kept my memory sharp so that I can look back fondly the things that I love, try to discern the past that I couldn’t understand, and to romanticize the things that I hated so that I can get over them in my ever so charming ways.

I’ve been able to rationalize everything so that I know how to think when this is over (as in less ignorantly). I can’t quite predict how my body will react to the change (my appetite for large meals has decreased, although I’m strangely always hungry. I can’t eat a whole burrito bowl from Chipoltle without feeling overwhelmed) but I envision it will be hard. I try to conjure up the taste of steak for example, and all I can feel is the sickening  blood of it’s rarity. I try to imagine the taste of cheese, but all I can think of is the acrid smell and the slice stilling and sitting grossly in my mouth. Granted, I’m not dreaming of corn right now, but it’s certainly not meat.

I can remember just watching my dog playing around and waiting for food earlier, the simplest grin on his odd face. I thought of how complacent and uncomplicated his expression was and that no one, not even I could take that away from him.

I’m not much of an animal lover, to be honest. But, by phylogenetic standards, I am an animal. I love myself. I’m comfortable with who I am and what I do. Sure I have relapses sometimes where I’ll cry myself to sleep over some guy I like or wonder what is my purpose in this world. None of this can be helped, as while I am an “animal,” I’m still human.

It’s way too easy to eat a Big Mac and not think of the cows that suffered in a capitalist breeding ground for disease and misery. I know this, because they’re friggin delicious.

It’s way too easy to name a pig Bacon and laugh and guffaw about how wrong that is. It is wrong, it’s degrading. Unfortunately, there is great pleasure in stepping on those below to be upholded higher.

Historically, people need to eat. Animals were hardy and relatively easy to produce. That’s true even now in some places far away from our sheltered lives. Where I live, I have the option to live how I do. Where I live, these animals have lost their nutritional values, their taste is dulled, and their lives shortened. Either I eat these corrupted animals, find organic and true meat, or find what I need from plants.

I can’t respect anyone if they’re constantly shoving their ideals in my face. You are who you are, not “what” you are. And by identifying with any collective, you agree to lose a part of your self. I rather someone who can say who they are before they introduce their beliefs or even what they eat.

That being said, I’m not inflicting my opinions here to accuse and change anyone. That’s not why I write this, why I started this blog, or why I went vegan for lent. I want to inform people through my perspective. I want them to be aware and unapologetic.

Thank you for your support.