Archive for January, 2008

Nothing New

January 31st, 2008

I just read an article at CNN.com this morning reporting how a person with a hidden camera entered a slaughterhouse in California (Hallmark Meat Packing Co., based in Chino, California) and taped workers abusing downed cows. They were taped prodding, kicking, poking, and spraying water up the cow’s noses in a effort to get them to get up and walk to the place where their heads will be bashed in and their throats ripped open while swinging upside down. While I obviously hate to read about these situations I do like seeing them brought to light, but this article didn’t quite make me happy. Quote from Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois:

“The treatment of animals in this video is appalling, but more than that, it raises significant concerns about the safety of the food being served to our nation’s children,” Durbin said. “The apparent slaughter of sick and weak animals not only appears to violate USDA regulations, but could be a danger to our nation’s food supply.”

While the supply of beef from this plant is reported to be used in the nation’s school lunch supply nowhere in the article does anyone address the animal’s treatment more than the first nine words of Durbin’s statement.

The treatment of the animals is just as heinous as any idea of diseased meat entering the food supply. Let me state that I do hold the welfare of children and what they consume in schools and anywhere else in the highest regard. The thought of diseased anything entering the nation’s food supply is a horrible thought. I don’t wish for that and am glad attention is being brought to that point but I think more and as much attention should be given to the animal’s situation. The more attention that is given to the treatment of animals in this situation the more people will realize what it is they are really munching on at dinner.

I’m sure your kids would love to go to McDonald’s tonight.

Be sure to watch the video at the top of this article. Must see viewing.

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Greening Your Computer

January 29th, 2008

I once left my computer on 24/7, only shutting it down when I left home for extended periods. Since buying our home and trying to keep it as green as possible I have started shutting it down every night and when not in use. Leaving a computer on contributes 1,500 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere each year (WARNING: PDF link). If you must leave that quad-core box with 6 SATA drives and SLI video running constantly consider visiting climateprediction.net and joining a distributed computing program that can map climate change and its impact. I am running the application and it seems to be very unintrusive and takes up very little system resources.

Find out more about the project at climateprediction.net.

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It’s A Circus!

January 24th, 2008

The Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus is in town through the weekend at the Sommet Center. Usually when this circus shows up it is greeted by protesting from various groups, one I know of is PETA, there’s also a handful of other animal ethics groups. I have never attended a circus, have no intentions of ever attending and am fully aware of the horrors that the animals endure in the training. Of course, the circus execs always talk of how good the animals are treated, but never mention the electric prods and whips the animals face daily. Do you think the animals just naturally act this way? If you do plan on attending be sure to pay attention the demeanor of the animals, do they look happy? Are they acting with affection? Do they look threatened? Let me know what you witness.

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Vegan Parents

January 23rd, 2008

A member of the messageboard is looking for a vegan parent group.  Does anyone know of one in the area?

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Seitan Worship

January 22nd, 2008

I made my first attempt at seitan yesterday. I was planning white chili for dinner and wanted something extra for it. I used a recipe from “Vegan With A Vengeance” (a great book, if you don’t have it get it.) and made a few alterations on flavor. It came out ok but I think the gluten I used was a little less than fresh and it could have come out better but overall I was happy.

For those that don’t know, seitan is a chewy textured food used sometimes as a meat-substitute or a substitute for tofu in some dishes. It is made using vital wheat gluten, a little four and water as well as ingredients for flavoring if desired. For those that like meat-substitutes it can be a popular addition to dishes and can be easy to prepare.

Try this recipe, it is the same one from the book but is also posted on the author’s website:

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 cup very cold water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Simmering Broth
10 cups water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy sauce

Directions
In a large bowl, mix together Vital Wheat Gluten Flour and nutritional yeast flakes.

In a seperate bowl, mix together reamining ingredients: water or veg broth, soy sauce. tomato paste, garlic, lemon zest.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine with a firm spatula, knead dough for about 3 minutes until a spongy, elastic dough is formed. Let dough rest for a couple of minutes and prepare your broth, but don’t start boiling it.

Now roll your dough into a log shape about 8 inches long and cut into 3 equal sized pieces. Place the pieces in the broth. It is important that the water/broth be very cold when you add the dough, it helps with the texture and ensures that it doesn’t fall apart. Partially cover the pot (leave a little space for steam to escape) and bring to a boil.

When the water has come to a boil set the heat to low and gently simmer for an hour, turning the peices every now and again.

Now you’ve got gluten. Let it cool in the simmering broth for at least a half an hour. It is best if it cools completely.

What you do next depends on the recipe you are using. If it calls for gluten use it as is. If you want to store some of it for later use put it in a sealable container covered in the simmering broth.

If your recipe calls for seitan cut your peices up as desired. I prefer to use a cast iron skillet for the frying because it produces the best flavor and texture. Use as little oil as possible to coat the bottom of the skillet, 1 teaspoon may suffice. Heat the skillet over medium high and add your gluten. Cook for about 20 minutes, turning the pieces occasionally.

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