Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So, I Guess I'm Raising a Terrorist

Here is the most frightening job description I've heard in a while, as told by a University of Minnesota student via the City Pages:

What they (the FBI) were looking for, Carroll (not his real name) says, was an informant—someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enfocement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”

If this kid's efforts resulted in an arrest, he would be paid money.

Read the City Pages article here.

Also, and I have to say this because it bugs the hell out of me, the first sentence of that paragraph I quoted up there is grammatically incorrect. It should say, "schmooze his way" and "report back".

But I digress.

I've decided to write a letter to the FBI, since they're probably reading this post seeing as how I've put the word "terrorist" in the title (Sweet! My readership just went up!).

Dear FBI,

Our next potluck will be at Como park, on June 21st, 1:00 p.m. at the picnic tables near the playground. We're having it by the playground because a lot of us have children. My little one (can you believe she's almost 2?!) loves slides and tunnels.

Oh, about the food. I'm bringing some spinach enchiladas. I think Jane will bring her kick-ass cookies again. Brett, Isabelle and their son Greg will bring the fruit salad. So ... let's see, maybe you could bring something to drink? Or maybe another main dish?

Could you wear your FBI windbreaker so we know who you are? Oh no, wait, that's right, you're just an informant. Well, I guess you'll know who we are by the pipe-bomb pieces and various explosives sitting next to our children's strollers (little Frank loves playing with the putty!).

OK, well, hope to see you there!


p.s. Just in case a humorless agent actually reads this, I am of course joking. I have never made - and do not how to make - a bomb. I do not know anyone who has ever made - or knows how to make - a bomb. All of the vegans I know are nice, friendly, non-violent people.

Please leave us alone.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Veganism on Network Television

This fall or winter, ABC will air a new animated series called The Goode Family. One of the creators is Mike Judge, the guy who brought us King of the Hill.

It's about a vegan family, "obsessed with doing the 'right' thing, whether it's environmentally, politically or socially. Unfortunately, their efforts often have unintended comic consequences." (That's an ABC quote, and damn is it lame as all hell.)

Co-creator/executive producer John Altschuler says in the preview for the series, "It's so hard to be good. You gotta eat the right things. You gotta wear the right things. You gotta buy the right things."

He's right. You do gotta do those things. Or at least you should try to do those things.

Of course, they're going to poke fun at people who try to be responsible citizens of the world. This doesn't bother me too much, as long as they do it intelligently and don't fall into the "crazy hippie" or "miserable vegan" trap. I don't know any crazy or miserable vegans. It feels good to do good. It is hard some times, but it's worth it. I hope that's where they go with the show.

Check out the preview for The Goode Family here.

Even if the show takes the easy route of vegan-bashing now and then, the fact that a vegan family is the subject of a major network sitcom is encouraging. Maybe this means that in a few years when I tell servers at restaurants that I'm vegan I won't have to then explain to them what that means.

But it probably also means that when people think "vegan" they'll think about that wacky Goode Family who are always so high-maintenance, condecending and miserable.

It's a double-edged sword. But at least it's a sword!

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Photographer Friends

I love having photographer friends.

I went to school for photography. It was my major. But it's not my job. These friends do it for a living, and as such are waaaay better than I am. For this I am thankful.

My friend Jacqueline, who lives in Norway, was in the States last summer to take photos of a friend's wedding. She also took a bunch of shots of Anna and, to a lesser extent, Anna's parents.

Her laptop stopped working shortly thereafter and she was unable to access the photos. But lucky for us, she recently pried her way in there (with some sort of crow bar made out of zeroes and ones) and pulled the photos out.

Here is her blog post with some of those photos. Anna was around a year old, walking unsteadily, chewing on rocks and still chunky as all hell.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Adorable Photos of Anna...

... won't be found on this blog today. BUT, you should all go over to my friend Britta's blog and see some photos she took of Anna yesterday while her and her husband were stranded in Saint Paul.


Well, not cool that they were stranded, but cool that she took photos. But sort of cool that they were stranded too. Anna loves company.

A-B-C, it's easy as 2-3-4

It's been a while since I've posted video of Anna. In this one, she says her ABCs and 123s. But she's not even two yet, so she misses some letters and numbers here and there.

She's actually counted to 16 a few times, but she skips 1, 5, 6, and 8. Still, pretty good.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's a Big Big World

I thought I'd share the song that Anna and I like to watch before her nap. The public television show "Big Big World" plays the same song at the end of every episode. This (and the few minutes of show that precede it) is usually the only TV Anna watches in a day.

Anyway, we missed it the other day so I looked for it on-line and whaddaya know? To view the video go here and click on "Try to Touch the Sky".

Big Big World is awesome. The main character is this totally laid back sloth. All of the characters live in the World Tree. The message of the show is usually about cooperation, the environment, getting along with everyone, seeing things from others' perspectives. It's really great. In fact, I think I put it above Sesame Street as far as kid-friendly TV goes.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


UPDATE: This post is about Jazzie Mae's, a vegan restaurant in Fargo that no longer exists. I'll leave the post up for posterity.

Fargo, North Dakota just opened their first vegan restaurant, Jazzie Mae's. I'm pretty sure that means that North Dakota just opened up their first vegan restaurant as well. (I guess it's called a cafe, but I don't really distinguish between the two.)

This makes me happy. The Fargo Forum's review of the restaurant is positive, even though it has that whole insecure-in-my-masculinity "I love meat, but..." vibe to it. But like I said, it was a positive review, so hopefully the meat-eater angle will get more omnivores out to the restaurant.

I plan to eat at this restaurant every time I'm in Fargo. If I lived in Fargo I would eat at Jazzie Mae's every week just to do my part in keeping it open. Even if I didn't like the food. Fargo NEEDS this. Or rather, veg*ns living in Fargo need this. If you live in Fargo, please go now and let me know how it is.

So Fargo is now tied with Minneapolis/Saint Paul in the number of vegan restaurants. This makes me sad and happy at the same time. On the one hand, I feel pride in my home state and I'm overjoyed that there is a fully vegan option in Fargo. On the other hand, I really with the Twin Cities had more than one vegan restaurant.

Veggie Nugget #15

"More strawberries. One. One strawberry. Uh ... two! Two strawberries. Yeah."

-Anna, a couple minutes ago

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Denver Trip Part 2: In Which I Write About Where We Ate

So we ate at a couple places in Colorado that I really want to talk about. Now, I don't want to make it seem like we, as vegans, never have options when it comes to food. I can find a place to eat no matter where I am. We don't need vegan or vegetarian restaurants in order to eat out. Even in Grafton, North Dakota I can walk into a Subway and get a filling veggie sub. Easy peasy.

In any town with a grocery store I can buy food to make a meal out of. It's not hard to be vegan. Read that again: It's - not - hard - to - be - vegan. Sure, it takes a little bit of planning and knowledge, but every healthy diet does.

But fortunately for vegans there are places, certain places around the world where vegans feel welcomed with open arms. Sometimes it's just a restaurant that's an oasis in an otherwise dry, dry desert. And sometimes it's a smorgasbord of vegan goodness that is almost too much to bear (like San Francisco, Portland or Amsterdam).

I'd say Colorado is a mix between the former and the latter. Boulder is, as the Coloradans call it, hippy central. So there's bound to be blatantly vegan options there. My sister-in-law had a couple restaurants in mind for us. One was a sit-down restruaunt where she said she ate the best tofu of her life and the other was a ... wait for it ... it's coming ... it's going to blow your effing mind ... a VEGAN FAST FOOD RESTAURANT.

Yes, you read those all-caps, bold, italicized, underlined words correctly. A vegan fast food restaurant. I know! I know!

V.G. Burgers has a standard fast food menu, except the food tastes great, is actually good for you and is 100% vegan. I had the Chili Chreese Dog. It was tasty. It wasn't pound-the-table-and-make-moaning-noises good, but it's fast food, it's not supposed to change your life.

Mrs. Piggy (maybe I shouldn't refer to my wife as Mrs. Piggy?) had the Sunflower Burger. I had a taste. It was awesome. I almost pounded the table. Anna had a bowl of Mac and Chreese and some of my Chili Chreese Dog. I think she liked it.

They're talking about franchising the place, so if anyone out there has a ton of capital they want to throw my way, I'd love to spend it on opening up a VG in Minnesota. Mark my words, if I ever win the lottery, I'm opening one of these restaurants.

That night we went out to eat in Denver at Watercourse Foods, this really great vegetarian restaurant. Seriously, click on that link and check out their menu. Holy crap this place is amazing. We got breakfast take-out from there the last time we were in Denver and also the sister-in-law brings deserts from their bakery when she comes to MN to visit (I know, isn't that nice? We really appreciate it ... hint hint).

But nothing beats sitting down and having a meal in the restaurant. The service is wonderful and the food is super fresh. It was so good, we ate there two nights in a row.

Their seitan spicy buffalo wings are to die for. I will never eat there and not order them as an appetizer. They're the kind of spicy that makes your nose burn when you smell it, but somehow doesn't make your mouth burn ... much.

Also, I had the best onion rings of my life. You'd think that if you've tasted one onion ring then you've tasted them all, but you'd be wrong. These looked like normal onion rings, but the onion itself was grilled or sautéed or whatever they did to absolute perfection. And the breading was delicate, yet held together. I can't believe I'm reviewing onion rings, but they were that good. You know how when you eat onion rings, a lot of time the onion will come out of the breading and then you're left with a hollow ring of fried stuff on your plate and the whole onion in your mouth? Yeah, those onion rings you're eating are crap. There was no chance of that happening to the onion rings at Watercourse. Yum.

Of course, the main courses were great too. I had a Tempeh Burger the first night, which I must say is probably the best veggie burger I've ever had. Oh, and the Quinoa Salad on the side made me rethink quinoa. Seriously, I just cooked quinoa last week for the first time in a looooong time because of Watercourse's Quinoa Salad. Thank you Watercourse.

(Side note, I discovered last week that I can cook quinoa in my rice cooker. This makes me very, very happy.)

The second night we ate there I got the blackened tofu. It was pretty good tofu, the presentation was pleasing, but the coconut cream sauce definitely gave the dish that extra bump toward greatness that it needed. Damn. I'm getting hungry just typing about it.

Unfortunately no photos of the food. When I'm eating out I like to relax, savor and enjoy. Once I take my camera out it adds an element of work to the meal. So ... you'll just have close your eyes and visualize the melt-in-your-mouth onion rings.

This was fun. Maybe I'll review local restaurants in the future.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hide and Seek

Anna likes to play hide and seek with me. It usually involves me standing in her room and then her running in and finding me, usually saying "peek!" when she does. But today she ran into our bedroom and proceeded to shut the door on me. I stayed in the hallway and heard what sounded like our closet door sliding shut.

I walked in and sure enough the closet door was almost completely shut. The light was off! She was actually hiding from me. It was awesome. If I hadn't heard the door close, I probably would have freaked out looking for her.

It reminds me of the time my mom was playing hide and go seek with me and my little brother Matt. She found me right away, but we could not find Matt. We looked for a long time and he was nowhere to be found. He was probably 3 or 4 years old at the time.

I can't remember how my mom found him. Maybe he was pounding the dryer door from the inside because he couldn't open it, or maybe it was the only place in the house she hadn't looked.

Anyway, our dryer is safely tucked in our basement, or as I affectionately call it, The Dungeon. The door to The Dungeon is always closed, and it will probably be locked once Anna gets really curious. The Dungeon is no place for a child.

Denver Trip Part 1: In Which I Show You Photos

So we went to Denver last weekend to visit family. Oh, and I've been editing wedding photos for the last month. And doing some more work on that friend's book I was talking about. So, yeah, that's why I haven't blogged in two weeks. I sincerely apologize to the reader that I have left. Sorry dude.

Well, on to some photos of our trip.

Anna loved the flights. Here's her all excited at the gate in Minnesota. She wanted to get on the plane sooooo bad. We were at the end of a long line to get on the plane and we decided to sit down and wait for the line to shorten. When we did this she started crying. That's how bad she wanted to get on.

I didn't get any photos of her on the plane, unfortunately. She looked out the window as we took off and really enjoyed it. Once we leveled off and all the "taking off" hub-bub was over with she emphatically commanded, "More!"

The first day in Colorado was spent at Anna's uncle Jeremy and cousin Noah's place. Anna loved playing with Noah's toys (and I have to admit, I did too) Noah showed me his super awesome Star Wars Lego game that he plays on his dad's computer. It was sooooooooo cooooooooool!

That first night is also one I will never forget. It touched me in a way that ... well there's no words. It's were I got my first taste of ... wait for it ... the new vegan Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos. There is currently a half-eaten bag in our kitchen (I bought it ten minutes ago). Thank you Doritos. You've just made me (and I assume you will continue to make me) less healthy.

The second next day we hung out in Boulder on our way from Ft. Collins to Denver. My favorite non-food related stop was Left Hand Books on Pearl St. (I'll get to the food-related stops in my next post). It's where I purchased the Marx For Beginners graphic book (not graphic as in nudity and swears, but graphic as in comic book style). I have to admit I know very little about the man and his theories. Where better to start than a comic book, right?

Anna chillaxed at an art store which also had those hanging chair things.

And then she played outside in this rock garden play area. Most of her playing consisted of putting on and taking off her sunglasses. There's just something about kids in sunglasses...

And here's Anna's "I'm fracking adorable and I know it" look. It's pretty rare ... for now.

The next day we drove up to Look-out Point overlooking Denver. It was wiiiiiiiindy as all hell, but it was a nice view.

Anna and her aunt Jessica looking at Denver.

Anna was a big fan of the mountains. She would point and say, "mountains! big!" It never got old. I think the trip, with flying and mountains and everything, really taught her about the concepts of up and down. Now whenever we drive up or down even the slightest hill in the car, she will announce that we are doing so.

At a second stop I walked down some rocks to get this photo ...

... and I guess I just assumed that Anna would want to stay up top, but no, she walked down the dangerous mountain rocks toward me (holding mommy and auntie's hand, of course). Atta girl!

Obligatory Red Rocks photo.

By the way, you can click on any of these photos to view them at a much larger size. If you do that on the above photo, you'll be able to see Denver on the horizon.

And here's the part where I have to break the bad news. Later on this day, it started to blizzard in Denver. As such, our Peaceful Prairie Farm Sanctuary tour was canceled. The animals were all in their barns and if outsiders walk into the barns while they're in there they get spooked and run outside. Since there were blizzard conditions outside, that would not have been good.

So BOO bad weather! But YAY Peaceful Prairie for putting the well being of their animal friends above our uneccesary tour! Seriously, this made me only respect them even more. You should all click on that link up there and give money to them. Now.

So, since we didn't go to the sanctuary we went to the Denver Science and Nature Museum. They had a ton of dinosaur fossils, which Noah loved. Anna really dug them too. Get it? Dug?

It's a little sand-box type thing where kids can "dig" for fossils. Pretty cool.

Stay tuned for the second and final chapter of the Denver trip blog series where I write about the food we ate. I promise it won't be two more weeks.