Thursday, April 21, 2011

Saffron-Infused Spring Vegetables with Basmati Rice



I used to be into handbags.

I used to think nothing of spending several hundred dollars on a tiny little purse in which I could only fit my ID and a couple twenty dollar bills for the club.

It's hard to believe it now. Now that I live in a world of utter disdain for the excess of designer fashion. But, there was a time when I didn't bat and eyelash about the various forms of exploitation at work in the designer subculture.

Sometimes, I still yearn for a little decadence in my life. Cruelty-free decadence, that is. Not often, because the high I used to get from hanging expensive animal carcass off my shoulder has been replaced by the high I get from living like a cheapskate. A compassionate cheapskate. Really, I couldn't be more different than the person I was seven or eight years ago. And I suppose as a vegan blogger I should pretend that I was always interested in the rights of animals - human or otherwise.

But the truth is, I wasn't. Not at all, actually.

I don't really like who I was back then.

But the nice thing about not liking yourself is the fact that it falls into that coveted realm of Things You Can Change. Any second of any day is an opportunity for change. There are so many things that happen to us and around us every single day that we are powerless to control. Who we are and what we stand for is not one of those things.

As for me, nowadays I get excited when it is socially appropriate to wear trackpants somewhere and I tend to groan a little too much when an event calls for heels. I have one purse that I use everyday. It's not made of animal.

All the same, the yearning for the Fancy is not all gone. There is still a little fancy in my life, now and again.

Usually in my food.

Oh, yes. The enthusiasm I once reserved for designer handbags is now channeled into expensive spices and speciality vegan products that I spot in and around town. The girl I was in 2005 would not believe that the girl I am today gasped as she clutched a Tofurky pizza with all her strength at Full Circle Foods in downtown Kitchener. But that's me. Now.



I have wanted a bottle of saffron strands for a very, very long time. So fancy, so expensive, so hardcore that they not only come in a bottle, they come in an envelope-within-a-bottle.



Actually, they come in an envelope-within-an-envelope-within-a-bottle.



That tiny amount you see in that envelope there? $11.00. ELEVEN FREAKING DOLLARS.

I may have had a tiny aneurysm in the spice aisle of my neighbourhood supermarket. A tiny one. I'm still fully functional, but since I handed the cashier those eleven dollars something has felt a bit off.



You bet your tiny little vegan butt that I used the most miniscule pinch possible in this dish. These strands are going to have to last me until my unborn children graduate college because I am never going to pay that much for so little again.

Saffron is pretty cool though. You put it in water and it immediately gives it this funky yellow/orange hue.



I made sure that there was pretty much nothing else in the dish but the saffron because if I am paying that much for something I better damn well taste it.



Just vegetables, mostly. On a bed of basmati rice.

I'm pretty sure that I'm the last food blogger on earth that hasn't tried saffron. Especially since I make paella all the time, leaving the saffron out. Meaning that it isn't really paella at all, just a paella-like essence created out of a desire to be able to pay the gas and water bill each month. I'm excited to make it now that I did splurge on a bottle, though, knowing it will completely change the taste.

The recipe for this comes from Fresh and Fast Vegan, the newest edition to my cookbook shelf. It's not one of the big vegan cookbooks on the market so it will be difficult to find digital copies of recipes. But for this one, what you see is what you get. Yellow "summer" squash, leeks, grape tomatoes, carrots, and green onions for the vegetables. Parsley for garnish. Two servings of basmati rice. A pinch of saffron disolved in a couple tablespoons of warm water. Vegetable stock. And parsley for garnish. A nice light meal for spring!



P.S. As a follow-up to my last post's rant, this makes me very happy! We here at TIV are all about offering second chances, as long as someone is sincere about wanting to make things right. VegNews made a huge, offensive monstrosity of a mistake. Part of the rage that arose out of the vegan community revolved not around the use of non-vegan photos but the fact that the magazine first lied about it, then tried to silence the community by deleting Facebook posts and then issued a statement that was not only not an apology, but was an attempt at justifying misleading thousands of readers and subscribers. However, earlier this week they owned up to this error and promised better for the future. I'm so over divisiveness in the animal advocacy community and I think this circumstance presents an opportunity for us to not only come together but move forward together too. Also, the nice thing about controversy is what rises up from the ashes of it - in this case, vegan food porn all in one place!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just backread a few entries in your blog, and then spent a couple hours reading up on VegNews - that apology is awful. They apologize for using "symbolic imagery" where they should have apologized for using digitally manipulated lies. You know I stopped my vegetarian diet a long time ago, but this still bugs me - more as a journalism major than anything else. It's SO unethical to manipulate photos for publication and pass them off as real. There's no shortage of photographers seeking an opportunity to be published and everything VegNews has given as a "reason" has just been a pathetic excuse. I wouldn't use a picture of Britney Spears if I was writing an article on Prince because they're both "musicians", would I? Especially not a picture of Britney with her bones removed and a Prince t shirt on. NOT THE SAME.

Apparently, it was a long standing internal issue as well - lots of employees have come forward saying that they brought the issue up and were ignored. VegNews is going to have to dig themselves out of a way bigger problem than they would have had if they had spent the money on the proper photos themselves.

-Nicole

Lori said...

I have been eyeing this little jar of saffron at Trader Joe's for a very, VERY long time. It's only like six dollars, and it's so pretty and alluring with its little strands at the bottom of this stumpy, romantic looking jar. Even my boyfriend, who HATES when I drag him there always stops by the saffron to say BUY IT I WANT THE JAR! I don't know why I haven't, lol.

Mary said...

Nicole - I couldn't agree more. It was unethical and insulting, really, that they not only manipulated the images, but they then lied about them and spent a week trying to cover them up and silence their readers. If nothing else, I think this has exposed a greater issue within the journalism industry in 2011 and beyond... the greater availability of stock photography and ease of manipulating it should be explored not just in terms of this issue but in ALL magazines and ALL newspapers. The thing with VegNews that was particularly disturbing was that they were using something that their readership is disgusted by, the major thing that we are opposed to and the sole reason publications like VegNews exist, telling us it's something else, and then taking our money for it. Indirectly supporting the meat/dairy industry, the same industry we vegans expend so much energy avoiding and exposing. When a publication revolves around a moral, ethical, or political subject it makes it all the more disgusting when they completely disregard that subject and continue taking money under false awareness. In this case, I could care less about their excuse of "industry standard". I do think that a magazine like VegNews should be held responsible for going beyond the "industry standard" of stock photography because it's not just any other magazine, it is a political and moral publication. It's not a matter of swapping a t-shirt here and there on someone, it's a matter of selling us magazines by using something we morally object to. It gave me the creeps and continues to give me the creeps. It makes us look bad in the mainstream and it also gives credence to those who think it's "funny" to chop up tiny bits of chicken and hide them in vegan food...it's really only one step away from that, I think.

All the same, I'm willing to accept the apology.

Do I think their apology is sincere? Maybe. However, it's most likely PR damage control. I've decided that's fine by me too, because if it means that the industry standard may somehow improve and the magazine itself can somehow improve and get back to promoting the cause that vegans stand for, then I am all for it. There is already so much infighting within the veg*n subculture and I think the vast majority of us are just tired and ready to move on fro the controversy. Fighting amongst ourselves is unproductive and takes time and energy away from the cause. After a week or so of debates, I guess I'm just kind of done with it and ready to move forward. With this horrible PR nightmare, VegNews has a chance here to make things right...it's going to be pretty difficult to dig themselves out, I think, but it's worth a shot and I hope that some good can come of it.

Lori - How fancy!! I've just learned that someone around here sells saffron for cheaper than supermarket prices so I'm going to have to take a look...maybe I'll find me a fancy jar too!

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