Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Simple White Bean Stew

Summer really has been quite cool this year so stew makes perfect sense. I was in the mood for simple, clean flavours and this really fit the bill. I love beans for their simplicity, and lately I have been making a concerted effort to cook my own and steer away from canned beans. The trick is to get a bag of beans soaking in the morning before you head out of the door, then cook them in the evening as you are noodling around the house. Store the cooked beans in small portions in the freezer and bring them out when you need them.

- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups canellini beans
- 1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes, juice and all
- 1 1/4 cup white wine
- water, if needed
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add bay leaves, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for 5-7 mins, until soft but not brown. Add beans and stir well.
2. Add tomatoes, wine, zest, and lemon juice. Add some water if you want a thinner stew. Season to taste. Simmer, covered, until veggies are cooked (about 20 mins). Remove bay leaves, stir in parsley, and serve with some nice Italian bread.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

For the Love of Berries (and Summer)

Can fresh berries from the garden make up for months and months of cold and snow? Lately, I am beginning to think yes. Winter was particularly cruel this year, and summer has been rainy and cool, but the berry crop has been absolutely fantastic. We spent the weekend at the cottage and when we came home the canes were laden with berries. After picking I weighed the berries--the total was 6 1/4 pounds! That was enough for 8 jars of jam and a cookie sheet worth of berries for the freezer.
This year we are also enjoying wild blueberries. Last year the birds harvested the berries before I could, but a strategically placed net has thwarted them this year. I only have a small patch in the backyard that yields about 1.5 cups of berries every week. The first crop went into some pancakes, the second into some banana hemp muffins. Speaking of pancakes, I tried the slow-rise pancakes from Vegan Yum Yum. They are totally awesome and worth the extra planning it takes to make them.

I will be back soon with an actual recipe and less gloating about summer berries.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Raspberry Syrup

Did I mention that I am drowning in raspberries? Not a bad thing, I suppose. I thought I would try my hand at a raspberry syrup, mainly for flavouring lemonade this summer. This is pretty serious stuff and little goes a long way as you can see by the deep red colour--a spoonful or two will flavour a tall glass of lemonade. It is not too sweet and still maintains the punch of a fresh raspberry. It is rather thin, so if you want to drizzle it over pancakes, cook some of the syrup with water, sugar, and a thickening agent (arrowroot, perhaps). I made a lot, so half the recipe if you so desire.

Makes 4.5 cups
- 6 cups raspberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cups sugar

1. Crush berries in a saucepan, add water and lemon juice. Bring to bubbling over med-hi heat and cook for 1 min, stirring constantly.
2. Pass mixture through a fine sieve, using the back of a spoon to get all the liquid out.
3. Place liquid back in the saucepan and add sugar. Bring to boiling and cook for 1 min, stirring constantly (be careful not to over boil).
4. Transfer into a glass jar and cool.

NOTE: if you pour the syrup into a sterilized canning jar and seal, it is hot enough to create a vacuum seal. You might want to seal several smaller jars to use throughout the summer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

One of the things I love about my house is the plethora of raspberry canes in the backyard. I really am not a very good gardener (and the cool northern summers don't help either) which is why I love raspberries. They thrive in our sandy soil and never need watering or fertilizing. Every year the canes provide hundreds and hundreds of raspberries, and we thank them for it. After making 12 jars of jam, I turned my attention to ice cream. The ripple here is actually an old-style jam; the kind people made before commercial pectin. Boiling the fruit activates the natural pectin and turns the sauce into jam. This is a pretty intense jam which does not freeze solid, which I think helps deliver more raspberry flavour.

- 1 recipe vanilla ice cream (cheaper version), made with 1/2 the vanilla
- 1 cup mashed raspberries
- 1/2 cup sugar

1. Heat crushed raspberries in a saucepan over med-hi heat, until bubbling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pass though a very fine sieve, using the back of a spoon to mash the pulp and squeeze all the liquid out.
2. Place liquid back in the saucepan and add sugar. Heat to boiling over med-hi heat. Cook for 8-10 mins, stirring constantly. You want the mixture to thicken and coat the spoon you are stirring with. You will notice that the bubbles will begin to bubble within the mixture, rather than bubbling up the sides of the saucepan (if that makes sense). If you are a jam maker, the mixture should "sheet" off a cold spoon.
3. Cool mixture overnight in the fridge, covered.
4. When making the ice cream, drizzle raspberry mixture in for the final 3 churns, or so. You want the ice cream to be solidified before you add in the jam.

Are you burdened with bushels of extra fruit this summer? More than you can possible eat? Freezing is a great idea and makes for a great addition to smoothies throughout the year. When freezing fruit, lay it out on a cookie sheet and stick in the freezer. When frozen, transfer to a container or bag. This way the fruit freezes as separate pieces (instead of one solid mass), making it easy to get just a few pieces out when you need them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Grilled Portabello and Onion Sandwich

The only thing better than sourdough bread is toasted sourdough bread. The crispy and crunchy outside contrasting with the soft inside just makes for a perfect sandwich. Tonight's recipe is nothing special, but it sure is tasty. And, it is a meal you can make on the BBQ on one of those hot summer days when you want to stay out of the kitchen.

Makes 4 sandwiches
- 4 large portabello mushrooms
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/3 cup marsala, or red, wine
- salt and pepper
- 1 large sweet onion, skin on
- 8 slices sourdough bread, lightly brushed with olive oil on one side

1. Remove stem and wash mushrooms. Mix together oil, garlic, and wine in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place mushrooms in a shallow dish, cap down. Toss mushrooms in marinade, and spoon excess into the mushroom's gills.
2. Heat BBQ to med-hi. Place whole onion on the grill and cook for about 15 mins, turning regularly.
3. Grill mushrooms, cap down, for about 10 mins, until softened. I grill mine cap down until marinade cooks down inside then gills (8 mins, or so). Then I flip and grill for about 2 mins.
4. When mushrooms are done, thickly slice. Peel onion using tongs, and thickly slice.
5. Grill sourdough, oiled side down, for a min or so over high heat, until nicely toasted. Assembly sandwiches (I added some Vidalia relish and a splash of Vegenaise).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Italian Sub, Veggie Style

I decided to make some submarine buns today (or hoagie rolls, whatever you want to call them) but wanted to steer away from the rather obvious seitan route when filling them. Instead I went with a "bruschetta meets grilled veggies" route for a different spin on an Italian sub. If you have leftover sandwiches, wrap them up tightly in waxed paper and refrigerate--the flavours will meld together and the veggies really do taste great cold. Perfect for lunch at work.

Makes 2 foot long sub sandwiches
- 2 foot long submarine buns
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 tsp basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/8" slices
- 2 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/8" slices
- 1 red pepper, roasted
- 10 cremini mushrooms
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- sliced tomato
- shredded lettuce

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for 5-7 mins until softened. Add vinegar and tomatoes and stor well. Cook until liquid has cooked off. Season with basil and salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. While tomato mixture is cooking, toss eggplant and zucchini in some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on a BBQ over medium heat until soft, turning regularly. Roast the pepper at the same time. Skin, seed, and slice when done.
3. Toss mushrooms in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. BBQ cap side down until water has been released. Remove from grill, thickly slice, and mix with smoked paprika.
4. Assemble sandwiches. Spread a thick layer of the tomato mixture on the bottom bun. Top with red pepper, then eggplant, then zucchini, then mushrooms. Top that with tomato slices and lettuce. Top with bun and enjoy!

The buns are Peter Reinhart's Italian bread recipe (p. 172). I subbed the biga with 180z of sourdough starter, then reduced the liquid by about 2 tbsp (add slowly until dough forms). I brushed the final buns with soy milk and baked for 15 mins at 450 degrees.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Vegan Dad on Facebook

I really like to keep the blog mainly about food and recipes, so I created a group on Facebook to discuss the larger issues surrounding veganism and ethical eating. If you are a Facebook type, search for "Vegan Dad Blog" and join the group!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Strawberry Daiquiri Sorbet

Prepare for strawberry nirvana, my friends. As promised, I ventured away from ice cream and into sorbet. I searched around for recipes and found two basic methods, one which required making a simple syrup (sugar cooked in water) and one which required no cooking at all. I decided to go for the latter and make things simple. The rum adds a nice subtle touch here--this recipe is not particularly boozy (there are young kids in the house, after all). You can probably make this with slightly thawed frozen berries, but I have not tried it. I hope it works, though, because it would be a real tragedy to only get this sorbet once a year.

- 2 lbs fresh strawberries hulled (around 6 cups)
- 2-3 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tbsp rum

1. Place strawberries, 2 tbsp of lime juice, sugar and rum in a food processor. Process for about 5 mins on high, until smooth. Taste, and add more lime juice, if needed.
2. Place in a ice cream maker and churn as per the directions.

You can make this right away, or you can put the mixture in the fridge to chill (you might want to do this if your ice cream maker is not super cold (at least -18 degrees Celsius). Or, you can place the ice cream maker back in the freezer and take it out to churn every few minutes. The sorbet will be quite soft (but should not be liquid) when done, and will firm up overnight in the freezer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sourdough Starter: Making Great Things Even Better

The thing about sourdough starter is that you need to keep feeding it in a regular basis--it must be doubled in size every few days with fresh water and flour to remain active. This sounds pretty daunting, and you've probably heard stories of the starter from hell that took over somebody's kitchen. I was also concerned about keeping things under control when I got my starter going a few weeks ago, and I envisioned throwing a lot of starter out as I kept refreshing. And, as much as I like sourdough, I really don't want to make and eat just sourdough bread.

Solution: add sourdough starter to other bread recipes. This way you can use up some of the starter whilst adding some great flavour to your other loaves. Here is the basic idea: the starter is a 50/50 mix of water and flour, so if you add 8 oz of starter to your dough, reduce the flour by 4 oz and the water by 4 oz. Proceed with your recipe as usual. I have used the starter in hot dog buns, whole wheat bread, and Italian bread so far (since I was using the starter I made this loaf in one day, rather than letting it sit for a day to develop flavour). I have yet to throw out any starter and all my bread tastes great.

Speaking of sourdough, my starter is developing in flavour and potency, and I am getting the hang of making and shaping the dough. Check out this beautiful loaf.

Near Global Cookbook Contest Winners!

Thus endeth another cookbook contest. The chances of winning were pretty good this time with 56 correct guesses of the mystery utensil (it is a strawberry huller, but I also accepted "that thingy that pulls the green thingy off a strawberry"). Hopefully you picked up on the very big hint since my next post was about fresh strawberries. generated two random numbers: 28 and 33. Congratulations Meera and Summer! I will email you with the details. Thanks again to all who played. I know I had fun.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fire Roasted Vegetables en Croute

This dish came together from a desire to clean out the fridge and a need to make Son #1 a vegan pizza for a birthday party he was attending. I originally intended to just make pizzas for the rest of the family, but as I started grilling I decided to go more stromboli style and I'm glad I did. The drizzle of BBQ sauce brings it all together and takes the dish out of Italian territory and more into some ambiguous fusion zone. The veggies here are just suggestions since there was no coherent plan behind the dish. I think some eggplant and zucchini would fit in well. The roasted tomatoes are essential, though--they add great flavour and make a kind of sauce when you mix everything together.

- 1 recipe pizza dough
- 1 cup white beans (cannelini) tossed with 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 medium red potatoes, grilled (cut in half, toss in olive oil and salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat for about 15 mins, mostly on the skin side, until soft)
- 1 roasted green pepper (roast on high heat until all skin is blistered. Skin and de-seed when cool)
- 12 medium cremini mushroom, grilled (toss in olive oil and salt and pepper, grill cap side down for about 5-7 mins over medium heat (until they release their water)
- 6 cloves roasted garlic (wrap unpeeled garlic in foil, roast over medium heat for about 15 mins)
- 1 large cooked carrot (grilled, steamed, whatever--mine was leftover in the fridge)
- 2 medium roasted tomatoes (place on grill and roast for 15 mins over medium heat--skin will blister and tomato will begin to release water)
- 1 tsp basil
- salt and pepper

1. Mix beans with paprika and set aside. Cook whatever veggies you are using on the grill. Dice everything except the mushrooms (leave whole) and mix together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and adjust basil and paprika to your liking.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a pizza stone in it.
3. Let mixture cool to room temperature (stick in the fridge to speed it up).
4. Proceed as per the instructions (starting at step 5) for my stromboli recipe. You really can pile the veggies up here, so go for it! Stuff that thing full!
5. When baked, drizzle slices with BBQ sauce and serve.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thai-Style Sweet and Tangy Noodles

As you can imagine time has become a precious commodity around here with four kids to look after this summer (when does school start?). I think we have consumed far too any veggie dogs in the past few weeks so I am now turning to Asian cuisine for fast and fresh meals. Once you have all of your ingredients in place and your wok nice and hot, dinner can be cooked in a manner of minutes. This recipe is more or less from True Thai which has a wonderful vegetarian section. The original recipe calls for black-eyed peas but I had none on hand and used chickpeas.

- 8 oz rice noodles (I used rice vermicelli)
- 2 tbsp oil
- 6 large garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup vegetable stock
- 6 green onions, angle cut into 1" pieces
- 1 large tomato, halved, and cut into thin wedges
- 1/2 block extra firm tofu
- 3/4 cup cooked beans (I used chickpeas)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp mushroom soy sauce
- 1 tsp white pepper
- generous tbsp white vinegar
- 1/2 lb bean sprouts
- cilantro to garnish

1. Prepare noodles according to directions on the box (usually you soak in hot water for about 10 mins), then rinse in cold water and set aside.
2. Heat wok over medium-hi heat. When hot, add oil and rotate to coat the wok.
3. Add garlic and fry quickly, until aromatic. Add noodles and fry for 1 min. Add stock and mix well. Add green onions, tomatoes, tofu and beans and stir fry for 1 min.
4. Add sugar and soy sauce and fry 1 min. Add pepper, vinegar, and bean sprouts and mix well. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Vanilla Ice Cream (with Cookies n' Cream Variation)

So here is the last in my series of ice cream posts covering the basic flavours. I just served it to my non-vegan (but vegan friendly) parents and they gave it major thumbs up. Again, this recipe is just what I did--feel free to replace and experiment to fit your lifestyle and dietary needs. Next, I would like to explore the world of fruit sorbets and sherbets. I will also get back to posting actual food recipes lest you think that all we do here is sit around gorging on ice cream.

- 2 cups soy milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 cup sugar (probably could be reduced to 3/4 cup)
- 2 tbsp arrowroot
- 1 can coconut milk, stored in a cool place
- soy creamer, or soy milk

1. Place soy milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Slit vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the insides into the soy milk. Add the bean as well and simmer for about 20 mins (I don't think any longer will add any more vanilla flavour).
2. After 20 mins the milk will have reduced by about 1/2 cup. Measure and bring liquid back to 2 cups. Add sugar and bring to steaming over medium heat.
3. While soy milk is heating back up, skim coconut cream from the coconut milk and add enough soy creamer (or milk) to bring the volume to 2 cups. Whisk smooth, then take about 1/2 cup of the mixture and mix with the arrowroot, making sure it is totally dissolved.
4. When the milk is steaming, slowly whisk in arrowroot mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick and glossy. Whisk in coconut mixture. It should still be glossy--if not, cook until it is.
5. Remove from heat and let cool. When cool, remove vanilla bean, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
6. Make ice cream according to the directions that came with your maker.

- replace vanilla bean with 2 tsp vanilla extract (the real stuff). Skip steps 1 and 2, and add the vanilla at the end with the coconut cream.

- crumble 12 chocolate sandwich cookies and add to mixture during the final three to four turns of the machine. You can probably get away with reducing the vanilla to 1 tsp, too.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Regarding Silk Soy Milk

Yesterday I posted a link to the Canadian Silk website for a 75 cent coupon. The reason I did so was because I was confident that Silk was made from organic soy beans and was pretty much OK. In fact, I am sure at one point their carton claimed that 86% of the ingredients in Silk, including the soy beans, were organic. But then I got an email from Michael with this link. Turns out, Silk used to be made with organic soy beans until Dean Foods (the largest milk processor in the US) took it over. I rushed to the fridge and looked at a carton. Sure enough, it said that Silk was made from "natural soybeans" and made no other claims about organic ingredients. I had totally missed the switch. So now I am providing the link to the Canadian Silk site and the American Silk site so we can all write in and tell them they suck. Make Silk organic again!

UPDATE: Not all Silk is affected, only some types. My chocolate Silk says it is organic, my plain Silk is not. Note the very subtle differences in the packages above--from "organic" to "natural." Note as well (sorry for the hastily snapped pic) that the carton on the left says it is made from "natural whole soybeans" while the right says "whole organic soy beans," has an organic certification, and makes the 86% organic claim. Readers from the U.S. have told me that Silk makes an explicitly organic brand for $1 more than the others, but I have not seen it here. Why not make all Silk from organic domestic soybeans, like it once was? And can we in good conscience support Dean Foods?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry season has come to the North! So we packed up the crew and hit the fields. All the kids were enthusiastic about the expedition (I am projecting on Vegan Daughter a bit, I suppose) and helped us pick 6 baskets of berries without eating too many along the way. We immediately made jam and I set aside some berries to make this delicious ice cream. I know the garnish may cause confusion, but I suppose you could also use raspberries in this as well (I would strain out the seeds, though).

- 4 cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 2 cups plain or vanilla soy milk, divided
- 3 tbsp arrowroot
- 1 can full fat coconut milk, left in a cool place (the fridge for a few hours)
- soy creamer (or more soy milk)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (the real stuff)

1. Place berries and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a food processor and process until desired smoothness is reached (I left mine a bit chunky). Set aside.
2. Place sugar and 1 1/2 cups of the soy milk in a saucepan.
3. While soy milk is heating up, whisk arrowroot into remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk. Keep whisking it regularly to make sure the arrowroot does not settle.
4. Skim cream off of the coconut milk and discard (or save for some other recipe) watery stuff. Place in a 2 cup measuring cup and add enough creamer to bring the volume to 2 cups.
5. Heat soy milk/sugar mixture over medium heat until steaming. Slowly whisk in arrowroot mixture and cook until glossy. I let mine bubble every so slightly. Add coconut milk mixture and whisk well. If it does not seem glossy, cook until it is. Otherwise, remove from heat.
6. Mix in strawberry mixture and vanilla. Let cool. Once cool, cover, and chill in the fridge overnight.
7. Make ice cream according to the directions that came with your ice cream maker.

Vegan Dad Cookbook Contest: Rest of the World Edition

I received many a request from readers outside Canada and the U.S. asking for a chance to win a copy of the Vegan Dad Cookbook. I felt their pain--I know all about blocked content (curse you, Hulu!), residency restrictions, and the ever-frustrating caveat: will not ship to Canada. And, of course, it was the outrageous shipping costs that forced me to limit the last contest to Canada and the U.S. The electronic option eliminates shipping, so here is your chance, everyone else! Up for grabs in this near global competition are 2 e-copies of The Vegan Dad Cookbook (colour or black and white, your choice). I rummaged through my utensil drawer and came up with this handy gadget (half the fun is figuring out what size it is). Here are the rules:

1. Identify the mystery utensil and email your answer to the address listed in the bottom right column of this blog. Title your email "Near Global Cookbook Contest."
2. Correct answers will be entered into a draw to win one of two e-copies of The Vegan Dad Cookbook. Two winners will be chosen via a random number generator.
3. Only one submission per email address, please.
4. Contest is open until July 15, 2009, 10:00 am EST.
5. Contest open to everyone except residents of Canada and the contiguous U.S .

Monday, July 6, 2009

Vegan Dad Cookbook Contest Winners!

Winners? Yes, winners! I was so amazed by the 521 entries that I felt obliged to give away another cookbook. You were all put at the mercy of which spit out numbers 317 and 117. Congratulations to Jennie and Denise who correctly identified the mystery utensil as a cherry (or olive) pitter! I have sent you emails asking for your address. For those who didn't win, print copies are available through Amazon for $16, and $10 e-books are available for download here.

I really had a blast with this contest. It was rather like everyone who reads the blog leaving a comment on a post. Thanks for all the encouraging words many of you added to your entries. I will definitely do this again--in fact, I already have my next mystery utensil picked out!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Decadent Chocolate Ice Cream

I love ice cream. Or, perhaps I should say I loved ice cream. It is/was my favourite dessert, bar none. In fact, during grad school I developed a very bad habit of too much ice cream and Coke that led to some fairly substantial weight gain (lesson learned: never go to grad school). Since going vegan a good scoop of ice cream has been few and far between. The choices here are fairly limited: Tofutti, So Good, and So Delicious, with the occasional Purely Decadent thrown in there, but they are prohibitively expensive to say the least. While some of these ice creams are good, they always raise a nagging voice in my head reminding me they do not taste as good as the "real" thing. Since reading about new ice creams made with coconut milk I have been wanting to make my own (I have not seen them in the stores here yet). So I was delighted to find a nice looking ice cream maker perched high on a top shelf at the thrift store, its $3 price tag beckoning me. I took it home, washed it up, and made this ice cream. For those who used to eat dairy, this is one of those very firm, fight-to-scoop-it-out-of-the-container, Haagen Dazs-esque ice creams. It is truly decadent and rich, though you can lower the fat by replacing the coconut cream with some other non-dairy milk. I love ice cream again.

- 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 1 1/4 cup chocolate soy milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cans coconut milk (that had been in the fridge for a few hours)
- 12 oz semi sweet vegan chocolate chips
- 1 tsp vanilla

1. Dissolve arrowroot into 1/2 cup of the chocolate soy milk and set aside. Skim cream from the top of the cans of coconut milk and place in a 4 cup measuring cup. If you don't have 2 cups worth, fill missing volume with soy milk, or the leftover water from the coconut milk). Whisk smooth as best you can.
2. Combine remaining soy milk and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking regularly. As mixture cooks, keep stirring arrowroot mixture to make sure arrowroot had totally dissolved. When mixture begins to steam, slowly whisk in arrowroot mixture. Continue to cook and whisk until mixture gets thicker and more glossy (you will see what I mean) and begins to gently bubble.
3. Remove pan from heat. Add chocolate chips and whisk until smooth (mixture will be thick).
4. Add coconut milk and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
5. Let mixture cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Make the ice cream according to the directions that came with your machine. Let firm up over night in the freezer.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vegan Dad and the 2009 Veggie Awards

Today, my friends, is my 34th birthday. So, if you are inclined to do something nice for the birthday boy, please consider voting for Vegan Dad for Best Blog in the 2009 VegNews Veggie Awards. The competition is pretty stiff this year, I must say, so I will hope for the best. I would also like to thank all of those who wrote me in last year--from what I understand, the votes and write-ins from last year determine the nominees for this year. I wasn't even on the list last year, so thanks to all the loyal readers who made this nomination possible.

If you are interested in voting, go to this link by July 31 and complete the survey (I am about 5 pages in). You don't even have to complete the whole thing (unless you want prizes).

OK, enough pandering for one night.