Monthly Archives: May 2013

My first vegan experiences

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I am a on flesh-free diet for sixty days. The approach was rather gradual – and it works best this way: gave up beef several years ago, having occasionally a piece of chicken. As I have been talking for some time already about a need for a change in the way I approach my nutrition, inspired by my blood tests results and a growing compassion for living beings. A first milestone reached – sixty days meat-free – upon successfully surfing numerous and amazingly generous vegan cooking and baking sites, have finally moved from words to deeds.

My first diet change was to replace yogurt with home make almond milk. Followed these simple steps for a great result: http://lovelymorning.com/index.php/2012/01/how-to-make-homemade-almond-milk/. Thank you, lovelymorning.com! I pour almond milk into my cereals, soy flakes and flax-seeds combined with  fresh or frozen fruits. And enjoy every bit of it, up to the last drop, every morning now!photo (2)

My first successful attempt were these oatmeal cookies, inspired by http://www.cookiemadness.net/2008/06/chewy-vegan-oatmeal-raisin-cookies/. My small imprint were to add walnuts on one occasion and almonds on another occasion for a variety of taste and flavour. I use the almond meat from the above almond milk recipe. Goes well with raisins, pineapple, cranberries and any other dry fruit.  I also reduced by half the sugar from the original recipe. They are delicious, especially with a mint tea from my kitchen garden. Thank you, cookiemadness.net !

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Cant’ really tell the difference, visually, between vegan oatmeal cookies and oatmeal cookies, which my child loves, fully inspired by www. joyofbaking.com http://www.joyofbaking.com/OatmealCookies.html photo (7)

And my other vegan achievement was to adapt this Easter Swirl Lamb cake recipe http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2010/03/easter-swirl-lamb-cake-veganized-family.html , to a Easter Vegan Bunny, to my family’s delight. Thank you, Kathy!936802_10151388848064071_323800802_n

One item I can not give up is chocolate. I am a certified chocolate –addict with no chance of cure. So I thought, until these: http://veggienook.com/2012/03/16/homemade-raw-vegan-chocolate-in-only-3-or-4-ingredients/ . I adjusted it a bit to: 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted; 2/3 cup cacao powder;  3 instead of 4 tbsp agave nectar/maple syrup for my animal farm molds. So I can enjoy now remorse-free chocolate pork, beef and chicken :).  They are heavenly and a long lasting taste for a brightened mood whatever the weather outside and inside. A bit too bitter for loved ones, which works well for me, for obvious reasons :). Thank you, veggienook.com!

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These successful attempts were  such a confidence boost! I’ll certainly persevere with more good for body, good for soul, good for planet food.

Enjoy and please share your first vegan experiences

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My Chinese lessons. By Gao Xingjian

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A first Chinese author I read had to be discovered on the Noble Prize for Literature list. I chose “Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather: Stories”

After Herta Muller and Doris Lessing I developed a taste for emigrés writings. Their personal experience is rooted in the depth of a human emotion associated with forced alienation, revealing the strength and vulnerability of human existence, along with tributes paid to the haunting power of memory.   

I chose a stories book. And it was worth it. The experience is similar to taking six trips in one-go. The author is an excellent guide. He will take you to “The Temple”, which is a projection of a shield to protect the happiness of newlyweds against persistent anxiety. “The Cramp” is pointing at the fragility of life illustrated by a swimmer’s fight for life and the awakening awareness of he’s unnoticed absence and struggle.  The “Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather” is an attempt to relieve homesickness.514MJSJHYPL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

The stories are full of lessons to take away, which will stay with me for a while at least:

Lesson of recompense: “how can we repay you? With some candies and cigarettes? No, we are repaying you with our happiness”.

Lesson of appreciation for small gestures “Fangfang took a bite of the melon he gave us and smiled at me to indicate that he was a good man. There are, in fact, man good people in the world”.

Lesson on deception and love “I feel sorry for her”. “Feeling sorry is not love. If you don’t love her, don’t go on deceiving her!”. “ I’ve only even deceived myself”. That’s also deceiving the other person.”

Lesson on harmony “The silky, tender, new green leaves on the white poplar shimmer in the glow of the streetlight”.

Lesson on writing “Of course a traffic accident can serve as an item for a newspaper. And it can serve as the raw material for literature when it is supplemented by the imagination and written up as a moving narrative: this would then be creation”.

Lesson on getting older “I told her people didn’t do this sort of work anymore and that she’d had the mat so long, she might as well buy a new one, but my grandmother didn’t see it that way and always said the older, the better. It was like her: the older she got, the kinder she became and the more she had to say, by repeating herself”.

Lesson on good&evil “Humans have a propensity for evil and that evil is more deeply rooted than good in human nature. You like to believe in the goodness of people. People just wouldn’t be so mean as to deliberately trample the memories of the your childhood worth remembering. ”

Lesson on peaceful loneliness “Are your lonely? In this world, yes. What other world is there? That inner world of yours that others can’t see. Do you have an inner world? I hope so. It’s only there that you can really be yourself”.

What were your Chinese lessons?

Three in one go: Muller, Llossa, Murakami

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I missed writing. There is no better way to fill in the void by reading others beautiful writings.

At one of my latest visits to a bookshop, my eyes fell on three book covers:

Traveling on One Leg by Herta Muller

The bad girl by Mario Varga Llossa

and South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami.

A heavy Kindle reader, my hands missed the feel and touch of paper printed books (forgive me, Swedish trees!). Muller and Llossa are to follow my Read all Noble Prize Winners in Literature project. Murakami was a bonus, for my devotion to my project.

I literally devoured these three books in three weeks.1

Inhaling the scary and longed after freedom of a young woman forcedly-voluntarily exiting her birth country to antagonize with accepting her homesickness facing an unknown future in an unknown country in Herta’s Muller’s minimalist yet dissecting style brought the feeling of gratitude for values we seem to accept as ordinary. The protagonist is not alone: three other male characters join her. Yet, one cannot escape the feeling of loneliness that transpires through this book. The protagonist’s trajectory might be easily Herta’s or of million of people rejected by/displaced from their homeland and antagonizing with their newly found land, which they wish to call ‘home’.

2It was the disparate reviews of The bad girl (see e.g. in The Guardian  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/jan/12/fiction2 and New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/books/review/Harrison.html?pagewanted=all that guided my choice. A girl in search of self devastates on her way the life of a man who is in and out of her life for almost four decades.  The human nature is nuanced at its best: devotion repaid with infidelity, care – with cruelty, generosity with abandonment. At a point I lost my patience with the female character, just to realise that I might as well be looking into the mirror :). Some say there is little new in the plight. True, but Llossa refreshing, spiraling and truly reader-respectful style is what stays with me after having had finished with the Bad Girl.

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I found „Murakami’s wisest and most compelling fiction” a kind of tribute to love on its own right. South of the Border, West of the Sun attempts to anchor the search for love in romantically nested realism or realistically nested romantism, if you wish. Childhood ideals may fade away or invade adult life but it doesn’t mean they are wrong. It’s just what they are. Boasting one’s life for the sake of a childhood memory of love is momentarily painful, as the protagonist will tell you in this book. Not cherishing the gifts of life at each stage is eternally painful, is my take away message from this book.

With my void filled by the greatest of greatest, I am turning now to another exhilarating author of the XXth Century – Gao Xingjian, the first Chinese recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. With care for Swedish trees, I’ll turn on my Kindle now.