Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sweetest photo in the world

I just had to share this. My friend Dan from The Gay Vegans blog posted this today on his Facebook page. I fell in love with the photo and asked his permission to share it with you all. Someday I want to do a post/s about animal testing, but I still have so much to learn before I can effectively write about it.  But as a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll let this image do its job.

Here is how the caption read:

A wonderful moment with Buddy, an amazingly loving dog freed from an animal lab in North Carolina, at the Kindness Ranch in Wyoming.

Has your heart completely melted? 

Check out the Kindness Ranch if you have a second. It looks like a phenomenal place.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We Have a Winner!

First off, thank you to everyone for entering the giveaway! It was exciting hearing from so many folks who want to try some new animal-friendly food!

Today is the release date for Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's new book, the 30-Day Vegan Challenge, so I tallied everyone's various entries and went to to pick a winner! And we have one!

The winner is ...

Boy. I wish everyone could have won. I feel mean not having everyone win.

Hollis T!  Congratulations Hollis! :)  Send me your mailing address within 48 hours and I'll make sure your chosen book Color Me Vegan comes your way lickety-split!

Thank you to everyone for playing along! I just bought the new book The 30-Day Vegan Challenge today and it's pretty spectacular. So if it's something you're considering as a possibility or if you're rarin' to go and try out this animal-friendly lifestyle, I highly recommend that you check out this incredible resource! It's chock full of good information and many many yummy-looking recipes!

Thank you again!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Note: The giveaway ends tomorrow night, August 23, 2011! Comment before then to be in the running for some amazing books!

Changing habits is work. There are no two ways about it. For me, changing to a plant-based diet was fun work so it truly didn't feel like work at all. That's the best kind, isn't it?

Since giving up animal products (and "giving up" is not the right term. I don't feel like I'm losing a thing, but rather gaining a lot),  I've had many conversations with skeptical but well-meaning folks who tentatively ask, "So, what made you decide to go vegan?" When I respond that it was an ethical choice once I learned what happened to the animals, a common response is a hand up and a fearful "I don't want to know about it." First off, I find it oddly endearing because I have no plans to jump in and tell people about the specific abuses unless they ask very specific questions that require specific answers. (And even then, my answers are pretty tame.) So the fear and the hand are for naught. The reason I don't blurt out the awful truths right away is simply that I don't want to scare people from having these conversations. It takes courage to ask, but most people are more inclined to learn more if they can do so at their own pace and comfort level.

And interestingly enough, many of the people I talk to have sworn off one animal product or another, be it for ethical, religious, or health reasons or for simply disliking the taste and/or texture. But the idea of swearing off all animal products tends to make people balk. Which I get. I balked for many many years. Not having butter and cheese was unimaginable to me.

But I think we tend to feel that it has to be all or nothing. It doesn't. I do understand that tendency, though and am always haggling with it. I often look around at all I have to do in my house and yard, for example, and get totally overwhelmed and, as a result, end up watching a Sex and the City rerun instead. But there's a secret. And I learned it from one of my favorite silly movies, What About Bob?  ....  Babysteps.

As you can see in the above clip, the whole thing is done as a farce, but there's actually a lot to it.  I often talk myself into just doing one thing. "The yard's a mess and the house is disgusting right now. But I can put this pen away where it belongs," or "I can put the timer on and work on straightening this room for just ten minutes," or "I'll just weed this small section of the garden." And in every case, it's all I need to get started and I'm usually rarin' to keep working after that prescribed task. And I tend to make some impressive progress! But it's that initial knowledge that I only have to do this one small thing that gets me out of the powerless funk. 

It's the same with changing any habit. For our purposes here, "I don't have to give up all animal flesh. But I'll replace one chicken dish this week with something vegetarian that has ingredients I like." Or "I'm not giving up cheese, but I'll try replacing the cow's milk in my cereal with hazelnut milk and see if I like it. If I don't like that milk, I'll try a different kind." It can be very slight adjustments.

You may find that just making this one small change will be quite satisfying for a few months, and maybe later you'll try one more small change. Maybe you want to know about some of the abuses in the animal industry, but you don't want to know about all of them because you can't handle potentially giving up everything at once if the abuses upset you. Do a google search on just the egg industry and focus on that. If videos are too overwhelming, do a specific search on just written information.

You might find yourself surprised to see that you want to make further changes. As Kathy Freston recommends, "Lean into it." And as Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, "Don't do nothing because you can't do everything. Do something. Anything." You don't have to change everything at once. In fact, you don't have to change everything, period. Making small changes keeps you moving and prevents that powerless and overwhelming all-or-nothing stance. And for many, if gives them a new feeling of power. We can make the world better by these tiny changes! It's quite exciting when you think about it!

Which is why I think that the whole Meatless Mondays thing is really catching on. It's a small change many people are willing to make and they are reaping the benefits, both in health and in that powerful sense of doing something

I'm still taking babysteps to where I want to be. I got a bag of most of my leather products and have them by the door waiting to go to a thrift store. But our leather chair still sits in the front room. My down comforter still covers my bed. (Down is a horrible horrible industry, I discovered.) My shoes are still mostly leather. (In some cases, it's simply a case of not having the financial resources to replace goods with animal friendly ones yet.) My cats still eat meat and that weighs very heavily on me. But I know I'll get to a place someday where I am doing the least amount of harm possible. Babysteps!

So try it! Baby steps ... Baby steps ... Babysteps through the office ... Babysteps out the door ...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pa Had Potential

Seven more days to enter the big giveaway! I changed the settings on the blog, so it should be super easy to leave a comment under that post. Remember, you must comment to be entered! :) 

I've been reading a lot this summer, discovering new books and revisiting some old favorites. One of my rereads was Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  It's always a testament to the author when a book can elicit the same feelings you experienced when reading it as a child. Ms. Wilder is skilled at creating that "cozy, snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug" feel that makes you want to harvest everything in sight, and store it away for the imminent winter weather. At the same time, things pop out to an adult reader that were not so evident to the child. For example, there are many references to Native Americans that are not very flattering, despite Michal Landon's idyllic portrayal in the Little House series. (Which I am a huge fan of. Just ask Netflix.) As well, the views on animals, as I expected, were very utilitarian. But there were some major surprises too.

Little House in the Big Woods was first published in 1932. One thing that always confused me was that the books was always listed in the fiction genre, which seemed to go against the whole idea that this woman was writing about her own childhood. Why not categorize it as an autobiography? Or a biography, as she wrote it in the third person? Well, it ends up that the publisher had Ms. Wilder make some important changes to this first book that made the resulting story not 100% accuurate. Namely, he wanted little Laura in the book to be five, not three (the real age), because he didn't think people would believe a person could have all those memories from the age of three. As a result, a whole period of the Ingalls's life was obliterated from the books, since Laura needed to be 6 to 7 years old in the next book, Little House on the Prairie.

Thus while all the tales from her childhood are probably pretty close to the truth, there is most likely some artistic shading of the details here and there. We all do this, really, when we tell a story from our early childhood. Some details stick in our brains and others don't, so we fudge it a little to make the story whole. Some memories -- for me anyway --  mix with other adult retellings and I often wonder how accurate my memories really are. So as I reread this story, I did so with a grain of salt, knowing some of the details were embellished.

So back to the animals. Within the first chapter, she recounts butchering day.

Then one day Uncle Henry came riding out of the Big Woods. He had come to help Pa butcher. Ma's big butcher knife was already sharpened, and Uncle Henry had brought Aunt Polly's butcher knife. 

Near the pigpen Pa and Uncle Henry built a bonfire, and heated a great kettle of water over it. When the water was boiling they went to kill the hog. Then Laura ran and hid her head on the bed and stopped her ears with her fingers so she could not hear the hog squeal.

"It doesn't hurt him, Laura," Pa said. "We do it so quickly." But she did not want to hear him squeal. 

In a minute she took one finger cautiously out of an ear, and listened. The hog had stopped squealing. After that, Butchering Time was great fun."

The story then goes on to describe the process of butchering the animal and preparing the animal parts for winter storage. Laura and Mary even go on to play a game of ball with the pig's blown-up bladder. So I read this all, as I mentioned, with a grain of salt. Not only for the accuracy of the child's long-ago memories, but as a reminder to myself that this was a very different time.

However, I find it interesting that she recalls being upset at the pig's being hurt. (I wonder if Pa actually believed that the pig didn't feel anything.) The thought occurred to me, "How many omnivore or carnivore babies or juveniles get upset when an animal is killed?" On all those National Geographic scenes, the young lions are totally into it. You never see one hiding behind the tree, waiting for the killing part to be over. Granted, some human children don't mind this and find it fascinating. But why are there so many children who are bothered by it? Doesn't that say something about where our tendencies lie? I've heard the scenario a couple of times that if you place a bunny and an apple in a crib with a mobile baby, the baby is not going to eat the bunny. He's going to play with it and snuggle it and you'll find him gnawing on the apple.

But it was the ending of the book that really captured me.

As soon as they woke in the morning they ran to the window, but there was no deer hanging in the  trees. Pa had never before gone out to get a deer and come home without one. Laura and Mary did not know what to think.


After supper Pa took Laura on his knee while Mary sat close in her little chair. And Pa said: 

"Now I'll tell you why you had no fresh meat to eat today.

"When I went out to the deer-lick, I climbed up into a big oak tree. I found a place on a branch where I was comfortable and could watch the deer-lick. I was near enough to shoot any animal that came to it, and my gun was loaded and ready on my knee. 

"There I sat and waited for the moon to rise and light the clearing.

"I was a little tired from chopping wood all day yesterday, and I must have fallen asleep, for I found myself opening my eyes.

"The big, round moon was just rising. I could see it between the bare branches of the trees low in the sky. And right against it I saw a deer standing. His head was up and he was listening. His great, branching horns stood out above his head. He was dark against the moon.

"It was a perfect shot. But he was so beautiful, he looked so strong and free and wild, that I couldn't kill him. I sat there and looked at him, until he bounded away into the dark woods.

"Then I remembered that Ma and my little girls were waiting for me to bring home some good fresh venison. I made up my mind that next time I would shoot.

"After a while a big bear came lumbering out into the open. He was so fat from feasting on berries and roots and grubs all summer that he was nearly as large as two bears. His head swayed from side to side as he went on all fours across the clear space in the moonlight, until he came to a rotten log. He smelled it, and listened. Then he pawed it apart and sniffed among the broken pieces, eating up the fat white grubs.

"Then he stood up on his hind legs, perfectly still, looking all around him. He seemed to be suspicious that something was wrong. He was trying to see or smell what it was.

"He was a perfect mark to shoot at, but I was so much interested in watching him, and the woods were so peaceful in the moonlight, that I forgot all about my gun. I did not even think of shooting him, until he was waddling away into the woods.

"'This will never do,' I thought. 'I'll never get any meat this way.' 

" I settled myself in the tree and waited again. This time I was determined to shoot the next game I saw. 

"The moon had risen higher and the moonlight was bright in the little open place. All around it the shadows were dark among the trees.

"After a  long while, a doe and her yearling fawn came stepping daintily out of the shadows. They were not afraid at all. They walked over to the place where I had sprinkled the salt, and they both licked up a little of it.

"Then they raised their heads and looked at each other. the fawn stepped over and stood beside the doe. They stood there together, looking at the woods and the moonlight. Their large eyes were shining and soft. 

"I just sat there looking at them, until they walked away among the shadows. Then I climbed down out of the tree and came home." 

Lara whispered in his ear, "I'm glad you didn't shoot them!" 

Mary said, "We can eat bread and butter."

Pa lifted Mary up out of her chair and hugged them both together.

"You're my good girls," he said. "And now it's bedtime. Run along, while I get my fiddle."

So assuming this was accurate, what does it say? To me, I believe that most of us don't want to kill and would prefer not to do so. Why else do so many people not want to know what happens in a slaughterhouse? If we're such huge carnivores or omnivores, it shouldn't bother us, right? It should make us salivate. But it doesn't.

And we don't run after the squirrels in our yard and feast on them with those "canine teeth" people swear make us carnivores. (I'd like to see someone try to dismember an animal using those teeth.) We don't go by a field of cows and have our stomachs grumble. Most people can only seem to tolerate the idea of eating an animal when it looks nothing like an animal. That doesn't strike me as a very carnivorous trait.

So that's some food for thought. I love rereading old favorites. Some interesting things percolate from these reads!

So, in closing,

1) Don't forget to sign up for the giveaway! (You have only until August 23, 2011...)

2) Here's a video on the making of the Little House television series that gets me all choked up. I'm such a sucker for Michael Landon's show. (And for Michael Landon. Who do I think I'm kidding?)

3) If you loved the show too, two books worth checking out are Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated and Prairie Tale: A Memoir.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Big Giveaway with a Surprise Twist!

Yay! We hit 10 followers! Let the wild rumpus begin ...

So the Great Giveaway I announced before was Colleen Patrick Goudreau's book The 30-Day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Cleaner, Getting Leaner, and Living Compassionately.   I haven't read this book, as it has yet to be released, but since all of her other books are wonderful and her podcast is amazing, I'm sure this book will also knock your socks off.

I've actually decided to make things more interesting by giving you a choice of Colleen's books, should you be the winner! What prompted this change was the realization that not everyone wants to make the commitment to eat only plant-based foods. Most of us love a new cookbook, though, to expand our repertoire, and that's not a major commitment if a plant-based diet isn't your cup of tea (yet). :)  So the books to choose from are the following:

Color Me Vegan (Everything I've made from this has been superb. My omnivore guinea pigs have raved about the food)

 The Vegan Table (I just got this and haven't cooked from it yet, but like her other books it's absolutely lovely inside.)

The Joy of Vegan Baking (I just got this one too. I'm not a big baker but will be drawing on the recipes for special occasions. Friends rave about this one, though.)

 and finally
The Vegan's Daily Companion (Gorgeous book. I'm not joking -- this thing is stunning. Granted it's not solely a cookbook, but there are many recipes in there and sweet, inspiring stories.)

As the new book is being released August 23, the winner will be randomly picked on that evening! The winner has 48 hours to respond. If s/he doesn't respond, another winner will be chosen.  (So keep your eye on the date!) :)

To get your first entry ( you must do this one before you do the optional ones that follow):
  • Write a comment below about which book you'd like to win and why. (I know! It's tough to choose!) If you win and you change your mind on the book you want, that's fine!
To get three additional entries
  •  "Like" Suburban Snow White on Facebook.
  • Sign up as a follower to the right. (If you already did, then that's three additional entries already for you! Way to go!)
  • Get a friend to become a follower or to "like" Suburban Snow White on Facebook, and then have them email me your name as the "recommender" 
  •  Add a permanent link to Suburban Snow White on your blog, then email me the link to your blog.
To get ten additional entries
  • Post the contest on your own blog/website with a link to this post and then email me a link to your post.
My email is

Sadly, spouses of Suburban Snow White cannot enter (sorry Ry). How weird would it be to have Ryan win and then announce, "The book goes to .... US! Better luck next time, suckahs!" :)

I'm really excited to do this giveaway. I've entered many blog giveaways myself and I get embarrassingly excited.

That's all for now. I just harvested all my garlic today and may do a post soon on that as it's so flippin' cool to dig these bulbs out of the ground!

Good luck everyone!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Giveaway and My Garden 2011

Heads up: This is a LOOOONGGG post (picture-wise) due to the ridiculous amount of photos I took of my garden. I'm like a proud obnoxious mama.  Deal. 

I've been meaning to post for a while to update y'all on this year's garden. I'm pretty pleased with it so far! Some things are doing really well, and some things are literally withering away and I'm stumped as to why.

But before I begin, I want to make a quick amendment to the giveaway mentioned earlier. It seems I was getting ahead of myself with the goal of 20 "followers." We're at 8 as of this posting, up from 5, so I'll say that once we're at 10 followers (you gotta sign up over on the right!) then I'm going to have an exciting giveaway. One my favorite people I've never met, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, is releasing her newest book this month, The 30-day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Cleaner, Getting Leaner, and Living Compassionately

The 30-Day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Cleaner, Getting Leaner, and Living Compassionately

I'd love to give this book away to one lucky reader. The rules for playing will follow once we get our two (or more!) additional followers. I'm really looking forward to the release of this book, as Colleen just flippin makes things so easy and clear and her recipes are to-die-for good. (Don't you love the cover?) This is for anyone, be you a completely tattooed, die-hard, angry vegan (couldn't resist throwing the stereotype in there) or someone who thinks this is all very odd and unnatural but is curious just the same about recipes, protein, iron, etc... So. I'll tell you more once we're at 10. :)

Moving on ... Entering my beloved garden ...

Kaci in her favorite spot under the rhubarb...

Sadly, we can't let Sergio in the garden as he flips out and tries to escape in a scary kind of way. He is making his feelings known from our bedroom window. Poor Buddy.

The Marigolds are our plant watchdogs; they keep all some of the nibbling insects away.

The last two years, I ordered a lot of heirloom tomato plants, only to have them never reach their ripeness with our relatively short growing season. (The cherry tomatoes were fine, of course, but the bigger ones needed another month or so of hot weather.) This year, I got my plants at the nursery, but only picked the varieties that ripened FAST. What a difference! We now have fresh tomatoes every night. I also got fewer plants, suspecting that I'd end up with last year's problem: a plethora of green tomatoes and little else. Next year, I'll get a couple more "big tomato" plants so that I can share with my neighbors, something I love doing!

 Cherry tomatoes!

 Bees are amazing.

Big tomatoes for us! These get sliced with basil, olive oil, and a smattering of salt and pepper ...

These apparently were not for us. :) Someone beat us to it. Looks like they love summer tomatoes too!

Two years ago, I bought some tomatillo plants. I've never needed to buy any again. They reseed themselves (as the tomatoes do too!) with a vengeance so I just weed the seedlings out where I don't want them and let the others go crazy. Hellloooo salsa!!
Are they stunningly beautiful?

I bought four eggplant plants this year, all different varieties. (I forgot to take pictures of the white ones, but this will give you an idea.) I've got some ready now to make my first batch of Baba Ganoush. I just love how graceful they are, like ballet dancers. In the dirt. 

 I love lifting the leaves and seeing them all hiding there. They're like little kids, giggling after getting caught in a game of hide-and-seek. Or like ballet dancers. Take your pick.

We've got peppers galore this season. They're doing so well! I always freeze them in a ziploc and then you have them throughout the rest of the year. 

 These ones are ready for picking! 

I planted (and continue to plant every two weeks) tons of leafy greens, which are so unbelievably good for you. I make a green smoothie each morning with a handful of greens and they are just as sweet as can be (I add frozen pineapple, frozen mango, frozen banana, frozen peaches, a piece of raw peeled ginger, orange juice, ground flaxseed -- omega 3s! -- and dates. It's from one of Colleen's recipe books, and tastes decadent. You'd pay $5 or 6 for it in a snooty smoothy shop.)

 Rainbow Chard. Is there anything prettier? Seriously. The colors take my breath away.

 Big fat beets and their gorgeous leaves.

 Dinosaur Kale. For my Tyrannosaurus Rex. 

Collard Greens. I love the way the dew gathers on the leaves like water on a raincoat. 

We also have the standard herbs, though I only have a few pictures of them here...

 Thai Basil. Mmmm... Such a distinct smell.

 This is a bush (!!) of French Tarragon. It was a wee bitty plant two years ago that I bought from the nursery. I didn't realize it was a perennial, but each year it comes back bigger and fuller! It was so full this year, it started shading out other plants, so I had to tie it upright around the fence.

 It's called dillWEED for a reason. Once it dries out, the seeds plop down into the ground and you've got endless supplies of the stuff. This year's crop is mostly gone and frozen in my freezer.

Anyone need mint?

I also have load of other herbs  -- basil, parsley, sage, stevia, oregano, majoram, thyme, lemongrass -- but I can't find the pictures at the moment. 

This year saw a new experiment: garlic! I planted it in the fall and am just starting to harvest it now. The bulbs are smaller than what I find in the store, but yummy! 

This is the garlic about a month ago with the twisty pointed "scrape" on it, just before I cut it off and cooked it up in a stirfry.

And here it is now, browning and ready to harvest.

Another new experiment that I started last year is asparagus. You're not supposed to harvest it the first two years (to let the root systems flourish and grow hardy), but lordy they're pretty. 

When you don't harvest them, they grow tall like ferns. Some of these are over 6 feet tall!

And they grow these funny little Dr. Seuss balls. (Yes, I said Dr. Seuss balls.)

I was going to include more, especially my "failure crops" to see if anyone had advice, but this post has just gotten ridiculously long. Oy.  Thanks for reading and don't forget to join up as a follower (if you haven't already) so we can get this giveaway started! :)