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Weekend = pancakes. It’s been awhile. Banana and blueberries inside, pomegranate seeds on top.

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Happy Herbivore

I’ve been trying to cook a little more this and so far have only made items from the Happy Herbivore series. I chose these books because it represents what good vegan is for me, which is more plant based and less about veganized mock omnivore heavily processed alternatives. I might just stick with these books for the month and see how many recipes I can get through. A grander plan would’ve been to try a vegan version of “Julie & Julia” this year and go through my cookbooks. Too many cookbooks. Too many untried recipes.

Items pictured: granola bars, vegetables with mushroom gravy, mock hamburger helper.

I’ve made the granola bars before. I add peanut butter and use carob chips instead of chocolate chips. I consider it my Clif bar replacement but I don’t make them often enough so I’m still a Clif bar addict. This time I doubled the recipe to make bars about the size (and calories) of a Clif bar. Not that I need the calories. I most definitely don’t.

I might’ve made mushroom gravy before but I can’t be sure and I think it was from a different cookbook. Not being a big fan of mushrooms, whenever they are called for in the HH series, I just sub my dried shiitake. I’m never sure how much dried mushroom to use so I just take several and grind them down in the blender. I left it a little chunkier for the gravy but next time I’m going to grind it down finer. It was delicious but I thought the larger chunks were a little odd since the mushroom bits probably didn’t have enough time to fully reconstitute.

I didn’t really eat Hamburger Helper growing up but I thought the recipe sounded interesting and fairly easy to make given the ingredients I already had. I was a little stumped though once I started making it and the directions called for grating the tempeh with a cheese grater. I’ve been vegan so long that I don’t have a cheese grater. I do have a very fine grater I use with daikon so I figured I’d give it a shot. It was coming out very fine and quite laborious so I started to crumble the tempeh against the grater because I figured that would be more like hamburger crumbles. I think the final product came out very well.

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A week ago I splurged on a meal and called it my semi-veganversary meal. I had several vegan sushi rolls and a dessert. Everything was delicious. It was too dark for proper photos so I only took these. This doesn’t change my belated veganversary plans. I’m still going to go out of town and have a fancy vegan meal next month.

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Today is the last day of March. March marks my 10 year vegan anniversary. I didn’t do anything special to celebrate the occasion. A year or two ago, I thought about making a trip out of it and going to a fancy restaurant, possibly gastronomy or a well known gourmet vegan place. I have decided to hold off that special meal. I already have an extended weekend travel plan for May so I plan to have a whole special vegan day to celebrate 10 years.

I need to also muster my will power and improve my good vegan/bad vegan ratio so that I’m mostly good vegan. I should be in a much better place now. If you had asked my 10 year ago self, I definitely would’ve predicted I would be in a better place. The major factor in being a bad vegan is that I have old habits that are hard to break because it’s harder to form a new “good” habit. I need to do my best. For my 10 year ago self. For my much younger self that deserved a better life but I was too lazy to achieve it. Better to turn my life around as an adult then have it all go to hell as I get older.

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Once I read about someone who enjoyed putting peanut butter in their oatmeal so I tried it a couple times and it was pretty good. I just took a spoonful and stirred it around. I’ve seen these packets of Justin’s almond butter for sale before, but never tried it. I thought it might be good for travel, hiking, or camping. I bought some oatmeal at Jamba Juice then walked next door to a coffee shop that I knew sold the almond butter packets. Turns out, it’s pretty hard to squeeze out almond butter from a packet! I kept trying and got out as much as I could then stirred it in with my oatmeal. I didn’t think it was so great. It could be because it was a different brand of oatmeal than my previous nut butter experiment at home, or it could be due to the nut butter itself. Either way, given that it was a bit difficult to squeeze the product from the packet, I probably won’t use these for hiking/camping.

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While this seems like a good idea, what ever happened to eating whole foods? Plants, grains, beans, etc. Anything from the earth that one isn’t allergic to. When you want to be bad vegan and indulge in something refined and processed, an app might help but I still go by the ingredients list. If I can’t pronounce it, if I don’t know what it is, if it just looks plain bad for you, I’ll try to avoid it.

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I don’t go to the farmers market often but awhile back I went with my mom to walk the dogs and we checked out the booths as they were packing up. There was an Indian food booth that had vegan curry. I thought I should go back one day to try it out, even though I’m not much into Indian food. A couple of weeks ago I went specifically to try the curry. They were out of vegan curry. I went back today to try again. This time, no Indian food booth. This has given me the opportunity to finally try pupusas, which were tastier today than last time, but damn it, I would to try that curry!

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Joy Division Wool Cape

Totally not vegan but I WANT THIS BADLY! It’s not only the stylish sort of piece I aim for my wardrobe one day but it rips off pays homage to music I appreciate.

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I spend too much money on food. I need to figure out a way to bring this down. I experimented and cooked more last month but I think overall I bought more expensive groceries. I need to examine my bills to see if I reduced spending or just transferred spending from restaurants to expensive groceries.

When I’m at work and buy lunch, I think that around $10 is not too bad. When I go out to dinner, I spend a little more. Breakfast might be cheaper but if I end up snacking, it might as well be $10 there as well. Let’s look at how costly that becomes. If there are 3 meals a day and 30 days in a month, that’s 90 meals. If $10 is the average per meal, then that’s $900 in a month.

To bring the spending down, the price per meal has got to come down. 1 month’s worth of food comes out to:
$8 x 90 meals = $720
$7 x 90 meals = $630
$6 x 90 meals = $540
$5 x 90 meals = $450
$4 x 90 meals = $360
$3 x 90 meals = $270

If I could get my meals down to $5 each on average for several months, that would be fantastic. Then I could see if it’s possible to do even less. First, I have to make my normal less. I have to make my normal within budget. Not overblown. Overblown is my normal. Whenever I start sketching out my expenses, I go through all the necessaries for shelter and transportation, seeing what’s left to play with for food and entertainment. The numbers are always shockingly low. I may not be able to drastically change my income, shelter, or transportation situation anytime soon, but I’ve got to change everything else.

Beans/rice + veggies + sauce. That should be cheap. I just hope I last. I’ve gone through periods of eating the same boring thing in the past before for different reasons and I end up hating it. Tough shit. That’s the price I’m going to have to pay for my negligence and overindulgence.

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I wanted a good deal so I went for the larger option on a few basics for soup and to try to replicate a product I have for breakfast sometimes. I have so much of some of this stuff that I think my girlfriend will flip out when she sees it.

$35 of kombu! $35 of shiitake! I better hurry up and get a recipe book that uses these ingredients because I don’t use them often.