Friday, August 29, 2008

The Vegan 100

I found this through a post on BlogHer. I absolutely accept. Truthfully, I haven't had all of these dishes in their vegan form (Pre Vegan? PV?) but I thought I would still include them.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto - had this at a great breakfast place in Andersonville
2. Green Smoothie - as long as "Green Machine" from Naked counts
3. Tofu Scramble - one of my all-time favorites
4. Haggis - have found some really great recipes for this, must try
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee - PV, obviously
7. Fondue - again, PV in this case
8. Marmite/Vegemite - when in Rome, or Eastern Europe, do as they do
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush - total staple
11. Nachos - my favorite vegan version at the Chicago Diner
12. Authentic soba noodles - favorite dish at Japonaise
13. PB&J sandwich - I did date a guy in high school that had never tried jelly
14. Aloo gobi - I love Indian food
15. Taco from a street cart - if we're getting particular about tacos, then no. Hot dog? Yes.
16. Boba Tea - I've never tried bubble tea! No reason.
17. Black truffle - frankly I think it is overrated
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream - Rice Dream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche - love, love, love a good ceviche
24. Rice and beans - feasted daily on this for a month in the Dominican Republic
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Caviar - too rich for my blood
29. Baklava - just finished some great baklava off from a place around the corner
30. Pate - made a vegan pate out of cashews and mushrooms, so good. The real thing freaks me out.
31. Wasabi peas - didn't like. At all.
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl - black bean vegetarian soup in a sourdough bowl from Panera?
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float - have never drank pop.
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka jelly - what?
39. Gumbo - all cajun food makes my tastebuds jump for joy.
40. Fast food french fries - a weekness, I confess.
41. Raw Brownies - Mom always told me no because of e.coli, but I always did it anyway
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl - maybe with some naan?
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - wine is a passion
46. Stroopwafle - no but I need to
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi - I've always found this to be a bit boring in taste
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed - well, I've eaten sushi, so, yes.
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey - love it in pastas
54. Sheese - need to try this, sounds amazing!
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. PiƱa colada - honestly, no, I don't like getting caught in the rain
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores - once my Girl Scout leader told us that if you ate over 250 S'mores in your life you were going to be fat. I believed her for about 7 years.
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry - yes please
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake - a la the Chardon Maple Festival
68. Smoked tofu - tofu amazes me in all forms
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho - one of my favorite dishes in the summer.
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe - we had this in our aptartment senior year of college, but I never tried it. Blame it on Eurotrip.
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake - how about the vegan cupcakes at Molly's?
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy - from our vegan Christmas dinner
79. Jerky - just had the jerk tofu sandwich from Karyn's Cooked. See above for how I feel about Cajun.
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup - my favorite soup in the whole wide world
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79 - no, but I'm going as soon as possible. The move to NYC happens this weekend!
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan - the most amazingly versitile food
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti - num num num
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta - another versitile entree I love to cook with
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough - aka yes, I've been broken up with before

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Almost Forgot How Much I Can't Stand Marcel

Police arrested Marcel Vigneron, runner up of Top Chef Season 2, in Laguna Beach this past weekend on suspicion of a DUI. He was released on a $2,500 bail.

First off, let me just say with as much impartiality I can, that Marcel has brought innovative cooking methods to the forefront of the culinary world. I applaud his efforts and success.

Okay, more importantly, even with the fact that I know reality TV shows edit to make certain people look worse (or better), I still couldn't stand this guy. He RAPPED during one of the episodes! RAPPED. I tried to find a video of it, but no such luck. It included the phrase: "The haters wanna kick me out just like salt with peppa, but I'm like, yeah whateva." Or something along those lines. It was probably even worse than I recall.

Here's his mug shot, for anyone that missed seeing his Wolverine like mane.

Besides Marcel's insistent use of foam in every dish, what I despised about him was his "victim but still a badass" persona. I'm never happy when anyone gets a DUI, and certainly driving drunk doesn't stand to make him any more endearing to me.

I'll stick to Stephanie Izard as my favorite Top Chef.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Update: So Much Support for Seeing Un-Retouched Women!

(Cross blogged at BlogHer)

Last week I wrote a post about the importance of sending out the right type of body image messages, and the equal importance of the repetition of those messages. In the post, I mentioned a campaign I had created: Show Our Beauty: A Challenge to Women's Magazines. The response has been unbelievable.

After a post on Jezebel and it's sister site Gawker, almost 900 people have joined. Almost 900 people who want to see what a woman really looks like on a magazine cover. Not everyone responded positively; one woman blogger berated the campaign from taking the spotlight away from other more important issues. (See what she said here.)

My response? People want to know they can help. They want to make a difference! But not everybody knows exactly how to make that difference or has the resources to donate. The "Show Our Beauty" campaign gives people an outlet - their participation is minimal (buy two issues of a magazine supporting something they believe in) for a big payoff (getting national attention focused on the unhealthy body images and media perceptions of females).

Most other responses have included words of support, graditude and links and stories that shed further light on the somewhat shady world of photo-retouching. I'm listing some of the best here.

  • A New Yorker Article on Pascal Dangin, one of the top photo re-touchers in the world. Not only does he boast three houses and an Aston Martin for his work, the publishers don't mention him in any credits in magazine. His work is referred to as clandestine, why?

  • The website This Looked Shopped features some really eye-opening articles and videos that show just how ingrained photo-retouching is in the world of the modern media, and how unaware we can be of it.

  • A friend directed me to the work of Lauren Greenfield. Her photography captures a lot of what I'm unable to articulate in some of these blog posts and emails.

So to those who haven't joined the fight, please do and send it on to friends and family. The more people involved, the more likely a magazine is to respond to our challenge. For anyone that wants more information, feel free to contact me at clare[dot]ondrey[at]gmail[dot]com. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going for this campaign and show women everywhere that they need not strive for perfection, because it does not exist except on the covers and in the pages of photo-shopped magazines.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Getting Spoiled Rotten

On my most recent to do list, getting treated like an all-star wasn't at the top. Weird, I know. Fortunately, life has a way of knowing how much I love pretending I'm a princess, so she helped out.

I did plan a couple final outings with my roommate to celebrate our last week in Chicago together. Most involved food. Okay, they all involved food, except for the "Take Chicago Architecture Boat Tour" which we didn't end up doing. We ditched it for guacamole and wine at our favorite local restaurant.

Totally worth it. I know guac doesn't photograph well, but fortunately my roommate does so I kept her in this picture for the aesthetic value.

Loyal readers will recall that I once described this particular guacamole as "the best guacamole I've ever tasted." Very true.

So back to the to do list.

Another past post I mentioned a chef friend of mine who will be working as Stephanie Izard's executive sous chef. We visited him at his current place of business before we left his city.

A major splurge for our intern budgets, we went to Custom House. We figure we'd stick to the salad end of things. Don't worry though, our chef friend kept our palates busy with some fantastic complimentary dishes.

Here's an abbreviated photo-log of the night:

Our appetizers: so good we forgot to take the before picture and had to settle for the after.

I learned from my mistakes when the four desert plates came around because those went pretty fast too.

And I tried to catch a couple of Dave at work in the kitchen - he's the blurry face.

A very cool night for all involved, particularly for those eating. Nothing makes me happier than great food, wine, and friends. Oh, except for getting treated like a princess.

So I guess I had all my bases covered on that one!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Excite Me!

One of my favorite sites, Jezebel, picked up the Show Our Beauty campaign on The Point.

Read the story written by Senior Editor Dodai Stewart.

See my all day reactions on Erin's and my newly started tumblr account. Plus, we're hoping our tumblr becomes pretty big; it's fun.

Really, last time something this cool happened was in second grade when I won the Easter Basket raffle. The whole school bought tickets! And I won!

But this is better.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Importance of Repitition: Sending Out Positive Body Issue Messages

(A departure from my normal themes. Cross-blogged at BlogHer)

At least once a day I forget everything I've ever learned about keeping a positive attitude about my body image. A negative trigger goes off and suddenly I berate myself for eating too much or not exercising enough. Everywhere I look I see bulletin board GAP models laughing at my waist size and magazine cover celebrities poo-pooing my forming wrinkles.

Now, nobody's perfect, and I don't expect to prance through fields filled with flowers shouting about how freaking great my body looks. But I do have remember how many images bombard women everyday that feature skinny, beautiful models that have been retouched and perfected. Statistics exist on just how many (an enormous number) but what's more important is how many messages are we seeing that say the opposite? Not nearly enough.

I listened/read Podcast: Interview with Kelly Park from 'How to Look Good Naked' and realized how strong the reaction is from people when they are finally given the message that their body looks good. Why is it so hard for these women, for us? Because we are fighting an uphill battle.

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty has started some of the conversation, and we need even more. We need to be telling each other how good we look, and we need to be seeing images like the ones presented on HTLGN or other shows that celebrate, not berate.

One solution I've come up with is to target one of the biggest proliferaters of this message: women's magazines. Showing our role models and celebrities (sometimes one in the same, sometimes not) with no imperfections does not inspire, it depresses. One of the worst examples happened on the cover of Redbook, a magazine that's supposed to appeal to the maturity and interests of women.

My humble efforts have been put in place through a campaign that asks a major women's magazine to publish an issue without using retouching or photoshop on their cover or in their magazine. Anyone that joins the campaign commits to buying two issues.

The only way to combat the negative body images we see everyday is by sending the positive ones out there ourselves. This is important for young girls especially, but we don't become immune at any age. I hope to at least pass this message on to my friends and (someday in the far future!) my daughters. Again, and again, and again!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cleaning Up Shop

My move to New York happens in two short weeks. Yes - they will be shorter than your average week because the rules of physics do not apply when you move to a new city. Didn't you know?

For the time being, I've put cookbook tryouts on hold while I tend to another task: using all the remaining food in my kitchen.

So last night I pooled the following items:
    Can of diced tomatoes, can of pinto beans, half of a summer squash, remaining frozen vegetables, frozen faux chicken breast, soy bacon, garlic, and onion

Basically, I threw 'em all in a pot. I added some salt, pepper and cumin, and as the great Carl Weathers says in "Arrested Development,"
Baby, you've got a stew going!

No, but seriously, it was pretty tasty.

Now what do I do with cranberries, artichoke hearts, vegan cheese, and frozen mango cubes?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cooking with Stephen Q.

The start of the fourth season of Top Chef inspired a tradition that has continued long past the finale. My friend Steve and I cooked a new dish before each show and then ate it while yelling obscenities at the screen about who should win. Stephanie surprised us! We thought Richard would take it all. As proud Chicagoans though, we supported Steph's win 100%!

Plus in the traditional upper-echelon blogging style, into which I am trying to indoctrinate myself, I must mention that Stephanie Izard asked my good friend Dave to be her Sous Executive Chef. He tells me that the her restaurant is slated to open next spring in Chicago.

Though the show ended a few months ago, we still cook weekly. One of my favorite parts? I do a lot of the cooking, and Steve does most of the cleaning. I like that.* We've had some hits and misses but he eats anything and I like trying new dishes so we are a great combo.

*If you want to know how I feel about cleaning a kitchen see this column I wrote in college.

In a final effort to rid my apartment of anything I don't need before the move, I am trying to use all my food products. Last night's mission: the rice noodles that had been sitting in the cabinet for 2 months. I had planned at some point on making pad thai, but my work orders from Thai Aroma every week and I've gotten just a little more than sick of the ketchup based dish. Yes, you read that right, pad thai has a base of peanut sauce and usually ketchup.

We decided on garlic-ginger tofu stir-fry from the Go Veg blog.

A quick trip to the Lincoln Park Market included dodging moldy snow-peas (we were using them instead of carrots) and picking a substitution for bok choy (purple cabbage). Obviously, Lincoln Park Market hasn't wowed me with their produce selection. Then we started cooking.

Delicious. This post is less about the dish though and more about this tradition that I will sad to leave behind. Yes, partly because I love that Steve cleans after I cook, but he also has an attribute essential for a good cooking friend - a willingness to try anything. He has never once whined about tofu, plead for a frozen dinner, or requested delivery.

So thanks Steve, for the all the times you went back for second helpings even though you didn't think the butternut squash was cooked enough.

Don't think that Steve has been a kitchen-only friend though. Thank you also for the time you left me at Hangge-Uppe, buying my soul (I traded it for free drinks from him; his roommate drew up the contract on a napkin at Harry Carry's before a Cubs game), and generally just being my best friend.

In case you ladies are interested in dating this wonder of a man, feel free to contact me, I'll pass on his info. Here's the picture I would pick for his dating profile on

Feel free to thank me now Steve!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Aren't your favorite movie montages the ones that feature audition after audition of horrible or weird talent (and the occasional extreme talent that just mixed up what kind of audition was being held) only to have the perfect person come in at the last second?

Isn't that why we like "American Idol?"

Thankfully, trying out my recipes hasn't started that way. Good for me since I have to taste these dishes, not watch them after being edited by a film professional. I scrutinized the first dish for taste and ease, but everything came together beautifully. If this is all it takes to write a cookbook, I should have started years ago!

Mais non, it is not all garlic and olive oil. As I maintain my vegan standards when cooking, I tweaked the my first test-run to make it without the dairy but with the taste; the original had 2 cups of Parmesans cheese. The result was delicious, but I'm going to need some help to test out the recipes if I keep up like this.

It's a cookbook about mother-daughter cooking? Perfect! My gourmet mother will be trying out the non-vegan selections. Problem solved. More testing news to come - don't forget to send your recipes to me: clare [dot] cookbook [at] gmail [dot] com

Perhaps you like an edgier (crueler) judge-fest though. I found this gem that occurs two days after I move up to Crooklyn - think I can still enter?

Gawker:"We Will Be at the Williamsburg Pageant with Bells On"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

On the Prowl...

For the last few months I've been searching for a job. No fun! It's been a challenge, and sometimes I put my cooking on the wayside, which is also no fun. I have a cooking "to do" list I've ignored for the past few weeks along with my gym time, my phone calls to friends and my desire to clean my apartment.*

*Okay, that last one usually sticks with me job hunting or no.

I really want a great job. I want to work hard, and I want to learn a lot. I can't wait until I find that a position that can fulfill those requirements for me. Right now I'm just focused on following leads and finding opportunities. I sound so boring.

So what have I done to ease the pain? Eat.

Nutritionists must tell their clients to keep a diet diary for a reason, because just writing it down immediately guilts me.

My emotional eating hasn't reached unhealthy heights* but it still worries me. When an HR woman told me they chose to move forward with another candidate - I ate a second lunch of Indian food and went to a top steak house for dinner. Later during the weekend I consumed the following: guacamole, veggie burger, asparagus, Mexican inspired ceviche, half a piece of pizza, peanuts, a falafel pita, two grape leave wraps and a Japanese noodle dish with a side salad.

*According to my health standards; isn't admitting you have a problem the first step?

Nutritionists must tell their clients to keep a diet diary for a reason, because just writing it down immediately guilts me into not wanting to eat for the next two days. What I see when not blinded by my food shame: no home-cooked meals on that list.

So this week, it's back to the kitchen. As I email my resume out, I will also be grilling veggies. As I read trade magazines, I will be baking vegan casseroles. As I pray to the gods to inspire technology/marketing HR people to hire me, I will be, well you get it.

Just as I'm getting into Web 2.0, so must I start Clare 2.0. Better, faster, employed!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chicago Diner, or, Why Hipsters Shun Me

I wanted to write a post about my favorite restaurant in Chicago. That's a high title as Chicago boasts some very fine dining.

I went to Charlie Trotter's last weekend which is ranked number 38 in the world. Down the street there's a joint that has the best guacamole I've ever tasted. So why does Chicago Diner get my vote as favorite restaurant?

Because there, and only there, am I accepted by hipsters.

For those of you who don't know what a hipster is (or those of you who think you are not hipsters but totally are), my basic definition includes anyone that listens to music they discovered before the artist sold out. They wear clothes primarily from American Apparel - partly because the clothes are made from manufacturers with fair trade standards, partly because their ad campaigns are super provocative, and partly because all their friends work there.

Hipsters do not participate in main stream culture. They live outside the boundaries and they like hanging out in fields painting on Saturdays.

Is there anything wrong with any of this? Of course not! If you're doing your thing, more power to you. The problem with hipsters has its roots in the same problem that Avril Lavigne ran into after debuting the rocker-chic-eye-liner-tie-wearing-faux-school-girl look. It was original when she did it, but the next 45,000 people wearing a tie and telling people that life's just so complicated didn't inspire me.

Hipsters choose their lifestyle to escape convention and judgment from others. They want to be free to live their lives in unflattering spandex and date men that have ironic mustaches. Great! Enjoy!

Why, oh why, then do they judge and shun me when I attend their events?

I work for a very hipster friendly magazine and help manage their events and promotions. This past weekend I helped them host a successful shin-dig; during part of the party I worked the VIP list. During the other part of the party - I was systematically ignored by each hipster that walked through the door.

The answer to my aforementioned question: they judge me. Maybe they can tell there were hot rollers in my hair earlier that night. Maybe their grandma died in a horrible accident and my pearls remind them of her. They can sense that I watch "So You Think You Can Dance," and they can smell the stink of sorority on me. I'm too counter-culture for their now well-defined culture.

But at Chicago Diner, everyone accepts everyone else. This haven is located in Boystown - a part of the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. There, large rainbows adorn phallic symbols that line the streets showing the acceptance that comes along with multi-colors, penises, and many stores that sell vibrators.

Here I can wear a polo shirt and eat my vegan food. I can sit next to the boys with the semi-mullets, the woman who still breast feeds her 3 year old in public, and no one gives me a second look. I love that.

Especially as I get ready to move to the hipster capital of the world, aka Williamsburg, NY, I have to remember to still stay true to what I like. What I like doing, wearing, eating, watching, and being. I'll find the hipsters that would eat at The Chicago Diner - the true hipsters. The true people.

Plus, the food is absolutely, ridiculously incredible.