Back! – and some words of advice

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It has been quite awhile since last posting – college can just make time fly by. I’m halfway done with my freshman year at Stanford University, so I figured it was a good time to get some thoughts out here. Here is a list of things I’ve learned since arriving at The Farm:

  • If you ever lose confidence in something, head straight for it. Over the summer and last quarter, I lost a lot of confidence in my art. I felt like I wasn’t deserving of the title “Artist” anymore, and hiding from that was a big mistake. I realized this quarter to run straight towards my fears, and that couldn’t have been a better decision. If you don’t like something or are scared — go for it and see what happens.
  • Drink lots of water! Tonight I had an orchestra concert. I’ve been sick, was probably dehydrated, and ended up nearly passing out on stage and having to miss three beautiful movements of Holst’s The Planets. Learn from my mistakes.
  • You can’t be lazy about your beliefs. I know I am not the only vegan out there (or even in my dorm), who sometimes turns a blind eye or is too lazy to really ask what is in an item. Making a decision means commitment, and I’ve learned my lesson from that as well. (Namely by eating fries in my dining hall that were cooked in lard, and feeling extremely ill each time).
  • Oreos are a girl’s best friend!
  • Take your alone time – relationships, friendships, and schoolwork can distract from this. But I’m learning how great time to myself is. It is truly a gem.

I hope anyone out there reading this is doing well!❤

Documentary of the Day: Cowspiracy!

Documentary of the Day, Veg Life

A couple of weeks ago I was perusing Vegansaurus and came across a documentary that looked super intriguing. So naturally I clicked on the link, and what do you know there’s a showing near me! Except, the one near me has passed and I have no chance. There is, however, another showing two hours away from me. So – Cowspiracy!

I am still debating whether or not it was a smart decision to drive two whole hours tonight to go see Cowspiracy – little hypocritical maybe, but the documentary was so fantastic.

I’ve been watching massive amounts of documentaries over the course of the summer about food – so it was no surprise to me to learn even more about the despicable hidden facets of the food industry. As consumers, we are lied to, used, and deceived by pretty much everything we purchase. Cynical, yes, but when it comes to the food industry it is certainly true. So anyways, Cowspiracy mainly focuses on the environmental aspects of the food (meat) industry – and the co-director/creator goes around to many of the different well-known environmental organizations in hopes of finding out there stance on the meat industry – the main contributor to environmental degradation and global climate change. However, shockingly barely anyone will be willing to talk to him about the issue.

What I find sad is that our society is so influenced by money and power. Many of these organizations are worried about funding, and the meat and dairy industries, which are so huge and so powerful, filling a major role in our economy as well as holding a huge stake in our politics, have complete control over our lives; they have the power to protect themselves with laws (Kevin’s Law, Food Disparagement Laws), skillfully deceive us, and even control the people meant to be protecting our environment and well-being. At one point a woman finally decides to break and discuss the subject, theorizing that many people won’t discuss it because of some events in Brazil, where many activists opposing the cattle industry’s destruction of the Amazon Rainforest were brutally murdered.

Keeping this in mind, I am also becoming much more sensitive to the massive role meat and dairy play in our culture, and how unwilling most people are to change that. Many people don’t even want to hear about meat and dairy production – it’s too upsetting. I offered to send a video to an old teacher of mine that included footage of slaughterhouses and cattle breeding farms. I ended up not sending it because I was told by her son it would be too upsetting, and that she hates that kind of thing. Yes, the media is keeping us in the dark, but what’s forcing us to stay there is our own fear and stubbornness.

I am so happy to have made my choice to live a vegan lifestyle, and learning about the environmental impacts of this choice tonight has only strengthened my resolve. I have been struggling amidst all this information in not just trying to convert everyone I come into contact with. I know it is everyone’s own choice, but I feel like we should at least all be educated? Is that too much to ask?

So please, go out and do some research. If you really care about the environment, you’ll consider it.

And Cowspiracy: FIVE STARS, highly recommend. Everyone go see it!!!! (Fingers crossed it comes out on Netflix or whatnot soon enough)

 

Love,

Tori❤

Cowspiracy Selfie

Me and my Wilmington Vegan flier in front of the theatre!

PS: Brief geek-out about the actual cinematics of the film (is that  a word?). I love that the trailer perfectly resembles that of a horror movie – from the dramatic music to the typography. The film itself is beautifully videographed, and this documentary just reminds me of how much I would love to do work like this in my life. Documentaries are about spreading the truth. Exposing people to what is really going on in our society. Major props to this fellow for doing just that, despite the many risks of creating this breathtakingly influential piece of cinematography.

Creme Brulee

Recipe of the Day: Creme Brulee!

Cooking Catastrophies, Veg Life

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Ah, creme brulee. So delicious, so creamy, so decadent. So high class.

Earlier this summer I perfected my creme brulee skills. And, much like my grilled cheese career, it was all spoiled when I went vegan. But no fear! There are vegan recipes for everything these days! So let’s get cooking.

After a few moments of searching on google, I figure this looks pretty legit: http://www.veganricha.com/2013/04/sarahs-classic-french-creme-brulee.html. She studied in France, so this obviously has to be some hard core creme brulee, right?

Not right. However, I can’t fully critique the recipe, since I may have actually improvised some myself..

As I start baking, I soon realize I am missing an ingredient: chickpea flour. Having skimmed over it before, I assumed it was normal flour and totally missed the chickpea. So I went to the grocery store, and saw no chickpea flour. Upon returning home, defeated, I decided that my gluten free flour was a perfect substitute. After all fake flour is fake flour right?

And I continue the recipe. Only to discover soon enough that corn starch is very very different from corn meal. Google? Any help? Flour is equivalent in a 2:1 ratio! Perfect.

SO I stir it all together into a pot until it somehow turns into this goopy mess, with some clumps, and looks nothing like creme brulee. But surely, surely it will make a complete turnaround in the fridge! So in it goes.

A few hours later I torch and serve – only to discover my creme brulee is nothing like my old creme brulee. It tastes like a lot of flour (no kidding) and almond milk.

Life lesson learned: never go roque when cooking vegan.

P.S. The artsy camera angle is meant to disguise how much my creme brulee does not resemble real creme brulee. You can do quite a bit of deception with an iPhone camera😉.

Grilled Cheese 101

Cooking Catastrophies, Veg Life

This evening I had the brilliant idea to make myself a grilled cheese sandwich. Not just any grilled cheese sandwich – a vegan grilled “cheese” sandwich. After all, I’d been making grilled cheese all summer – grilled cheese with Kale, grilled cheese with tomato, grilled cheese with honey mustard – I had finally gotten it down to a science. What could go wrong, right?

Well, for starters, I began my summer on a health food kick. I went to Trader Joe’s (aka heaven) and stocked up on fruits and veggies, purchased the phenomenal Fifty Shades of Kale from Barnes & Noble and worshipped the Food Network. The first few tries were unsuccessful, and eventually I got the hang of it.

What I didn’t realize when I went vegan was that now my cooking skills have reverted back to square one😦. Vegan cooking is an entirely different ballgame (that, or I am just an awful cook). So when I set out to cook my simple 4-year-old-child dinner, I didn’t think it was going to be hard at all.

And then the cheese didn’t melt. For some reason, my fancy schmancy new vegan cheese was staying solid. And the bread was burning. And my mom was asking me why there was smoke in the kitchen. So my dinner consisted of two burnt pieces of break and some pieces of fake cheese. Well, I thought I could fix that! Plop that in the microwave, that’ll do the trick! Right? So I did. And the cheese melted. Apparently it had been just on the verge of liquifying, and the microwave just exaggerated that beyond belief. So now I had two pieces of burnt bread and some cheese soup – yummy!

Looks like I am restarting the learning curve, but I can assure you that I am racking up the first round of failed vegan dishes: grilled cheese, banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, mac’n’cheese…

On the bright side, I just bought some badass vegan Vans!

Anyone got any great tips for melting vegan cheese?

On the third day of Veganmas…

Veg Life

VEGAN BLOG

So in a previous post I mentioned that I’ve recently gone vegan – and let you know a couple reasons why (namely, Vegucated on Netflix!) After the daily question of: what do I even eat for dinner? I know I have definitely been searching online for easy vegan recipes, tips and tricks and ways to more easily find the lay of the veggie-covered land. For anyone interested in following me on this veggie journey, please read on.

Things I miss (but not enough to go back!)

  • Cheese😦
  • Chocolate – I am distraught over learning that most chocolate is not vegan today. I am additionally distraught over the fact that I bought a rather expensive (relatively) bag of chocolate chips at Whole Foods marked “vegetarian” and then realized that “vegetarian” did not mean vegan.
  • Trader Joe’s Power Berries – Back to the chocolate. I was popping these into my face earlier and then read the back. They are made with milk. I am devastated.
  • Thankfully that is about all so far, but it’s only been three days!

Recipes I have tested out so far: 

  • Mac and “cheese” found here – My mother was not as happy with it as I was. I can tell you it doesn’t taste like real cheese, unless you are used to some funky tasting cheese! It is made with potatoes, carrots, onions and a whole bunch of other stuff (all healthy!) and it slightly kind of a little bit resembles mac’n’cheese. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never enjoy a nice pure slice of sharp cheddar again, and this pasta dish is actually pretty good. Reheated for lunch today it tasted a lot more like Mac’n’cheese, but that may have been my taste buds adjusting. Maybe I’ll forget what real cheese tastes like soon?
  • Cupcakes! Actually the first vegan recipe I tried out (duh)! Passed off for omni cupcakes to all my old teachers, and the fam. I call it a success. They’re delicious – made with coconut oil, and I even tried some of this paleo frosting, which my nutrition-healthy-food-loving friends enjoyed (the family preferred the store-bought Duncan Hines).
  • These chocolate chip cookies. My little brother told me to make him some, and he also made me promise to not make a vegan version. Don’t tell him but I did use a vegan recipe, although those didn’t turn out vegan. I ended up using those deceitful chocolate chips from earlier to give them some use. The batter itself is vegan – and I ate my share of raw batter and it tasted like normal cookie dough! HOWEVER bonus points for him not finding out – he still thinks they’re 100% omni cookies!

Recipes I am planning to try out in the next couple of weeks: 

  • Chocolate Cherry Gluten Free Brownies – don’t these look to die for? I will update once I’ve tried them! And found some cherries.
  • This peach and blackberry cobbler – We have a ton in the house so I’m planning on trying it out tomorrow!
  • Lastly, this vegan creme brulee!!! I have been making creme brulee all summer, and I even bought a little torch (don’t judge!). I miss it already so I can’t wait to try out this vegan recipe.

Vegan baking supplies I have added to the pantry: I know I have slowly been trying to figure out what common ingredients are a part of vegan recipes, so if anyone else is having my same struggles I hope you appreciate this list (by no means is it all-inclusive or even great, again I’m only on day 3!)

  • Almond Milk – I have had this for a while, since I use it for smoothies and I generally like it better than normal milk. It’s in a lot of baking recipes (cupcakes, cookies).
  • Coconut Oil – This is in a lot of vegan versions of recipes! NOTE: Always melt the coconut oil (I think, so far this has been the rule for me!)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – This has been useful in baking, specifically for cupcakes. I used it to curdle the almond milk.
  • Almond/Cashew Meal – I have been using Cashew Meal instead of grinding up my own cashews (I don’t know if I’m supposed to but I haven’t had any trouble so far and it takes out a ton of steps). Nutty things are generally good – for breading, crumbles and lots of vegan versions of things.
  • Flaxseed Meal – Haven’t used it yet but I had heard that it is a must, and a great egg substitute!
  • To be continued… there’s always more coming!

Stay tuned to see how everything pans out – recipe- and life-wise! I am having a blast with this. In the words of the Vegansaurus, being vegan is like a daily treasure hunt. We are food detectives, and that makes life all the more fun!

Vegucated

Documentary of the Day, Veg Life

Documentary of the day: Vegucated

In other words – the reason I am now vegan. More or less. Watching documentaries each night has become somewhat of a habit for me in these final empty pre-college days. Documentaries on health, documentaries on the environment, documentaries on women’s rights. Vegucated is a playful take on a many of the serious issues with the American diet – a much lighter contrast to Hungry for Change, but arguably more effective.

The documentary revolves around three New Yorkers who have agreed to follow a vegan diet and lifestyle for six weeks, learning about the reasons for becoming vegan and the environmental impacts that follow along the way. Did you know you can save twice as much CO2 by following a vegetarian diet for a year than you would by switching to a hybrid car? Stacked upon the reading of My Year of Meats, it didn’t really seem to be a question of whether or not I wanted to become vegan, it was obvious.

And then starts the game: what to eat? How do I get ice cream? How do I cook with coconut oil? Is coconut milk different from “coconut milk”? Today I attempted vegan “macaroni and cheese” – needless to say no cheese was involved. My mother thought I was crazy, and described the dish as “funky,” but hey, I’m trying! There’s only so much you can do to properly imitate cheese. And cheese, I am learning, is the what I will miss the absolute most. However, not enough to support the American dairy industry. Although, having read this on line, I have to say it is a fun little game to eat. What’s the fun in eating just anything anyone throws at you? A vegan has to think on her feet, quickly and responsibly – but cleverly as well. It is a puzzle to crack. A game of tetris.

Anywho, I highly recommend Vegucated to anyone who comes my way, as well as doing research on the meat and dairy industry and their practices. I am loving my choice!

 

 

Moral Monday 12 – the power of a poster

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The second go-around my friend L and I decided to make signs.  She came over Sunday night and we worked our butts off – and our signs are pretty ingenious, if I do say so myself!

Now that we are veteran Moral-Monday-goers (or at least, we like to think that we are), we were really pumped for the protest. We came prepared with signs, bottled water in our back pockets, and a fan to cool ourselves down. We marched up to meet some other friends from school, and we held our signs proudly.

What we weren’t expecting was all the attention a poster could bring… we had our photos taken, and there was always someone new coming to talk to us. One of our other friends was sporting a snazzy Dr. Who themed sign – and she got some pretty hilarious reactions from that (pretty much: “OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU”). A woman came up to us, and she asked us if we were in college. When we told her we were still in high school – she shouted “NOW THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN ‘BOUT” and we smiled and laughed.

Not too long after a little Indian man came up to us, and asked what school we were from. When we answered he looked surprised and said “I thought that school was all Republicans? It’s where the rich people go, right?” And our friends mom looked at him and laughed and said “I am NOT rich” … He was surprised and so proud that we were out there. Just a group of high-schoolers, but we were standing up for what we believed. He told us he had wanted to send his kids to our school – for the great opportunity he claimed we had (he also happened to ask the three of us where we wanted to go to college, and the answers were all along the lines of Brown, Yale, Stanford…). He told us he coached a soccer team for underprivileged kids – as long as they kept their grades up. We smiled and parted, and more people came up with cameras as he departed.

When we had arrived, we hadn’t realized how much power holding neon pink or green sparkling, glittery sign could have. Yes, we had known it was blinding in color, and beautifully designed, but we hadn’t expected the reactions we got. We could see the pride in that woman’s eyes when she realized how young we were. Our age holds as much power as our signs. Our actions, our viewpoints – they do matter. And we can only hope the legislators will listen.

Moral Monday 11

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“Dude, moral Monday tomorrow. Civil disobedience training starts at 3. Actual protest starts at 5. You in?”

“I’m in”

Got that text from my friend at 12.56 am today.

If you’re wondering what moral monday is, let me tell you some about it:

Moral Monday began this summer in North Carolina as a group protesting on the Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh. Peaceful, non-violent protesters standing up for womens rights, education, health care and voting rights among many others. If you would like to learn more about it, check it out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/moral-mondays And in the meantime, I’m about to tell you about my own experience.

Not one step back,

Forward together!

So anyways, my friend and I decided we should go check it out. We decided we probably shouldn’t get arrested (and by decided, our mothers both told us we could only go if we promised to avoid getting arrested), and we set out for downtown Raleigh. We didn’t know what to put on a sign if we made one, so unfortunately we came unequipped. As we trekked the concrete sidewalks, we could hear the voices of the protesters blaring through megaphones at the Mall. We made our way up to the grass, and tried to get as close as we could to the speakers. We WOO’d and cheered and clapped and checked out the posters – making mental lists in our head of ideas for next monday (we decided we would become weekly participants).

Tell me what you want, what you really really want!

Justice!

Tell me what you need, what you really really need!

Justice!

Then we heard an announcement, those wearing the blue bands, planning to get arrested, were to gather and the rest of us would make a pathway for them to enter the legislature building. Unfortunately, my friend and I didn’t get to go to the civil disobedience training, and weren’t going with them, but she told me that her hairdresser’s father was in the group. Since he was retired, he had nothing to lose! (We also decided when we retire we’re gonna protest all the time, obviously! But this is one of the reason so many people getting arrested are older. They don’t have to worry about marking the “have you ever been arrested” box on job applications anymore!) She also told me he apparently liked to make buttons for everyone who was gonna be on the bus, and he even had is own button machine!

Show me what hypocracy looks like!

That is what hypocracy looks like!

Show me what democracy looks like!

This is what democracy looks like!

After those getting arrested left, we stayed to listen to more speaches, subscribed to the NAACP text messages and sang together. When they directed us to the street to support the protestors getting arrested, we followed, and discovered a drumming group and lots of chanting going on! (We’re pretty sure we won’t be able to talk tomorrow).

There ain’t no power like the power ‘the people,

cuz the power ‘the people don’t stop!

We admired all the posters, took pictures and eventually departed to find water (it was hot and humid, and we were getting dehydrated). We recapped our moral monday adventure in a diner near where I parked.

Get up!

Get down!

Democracy has come to town!

Unfortunately, I don’t have a majorly inspirational story to tell you about what I, personally, am fighting for, but I hope to give you one some day soon. I went to moral monday to experience to revolution, to fight for my rights as a woman and support those who have the moral high ground.

Rain or shine

Got justice on my mind

I plan on continuing to attend moral monday. Hey, maybe I’ll even get arrested! Some things are just worth it. And the more I attend, the more I will learn, and the more I will fight for my own morals and rights!

What do we want?

Justice!

When do we want it?

Now!

Moral Monday #11 Photos

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Yesterday, my friend and I hit up Moral Monday on the Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh. Here are some of the better pictures my friend and I were able to get from the protest – and I’ll post more of my impressions of Moral Monday soon!

 

First post!

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Welcome! I’m Tori Parrish, and for my first post I’ll try to describe myself in three words: spontaneous, vivacious… sincere. That sounds about right🙂

I’m still in high school, but I’m almost out! I’m an artist, a harpist, volunteer and a leader. I’ve painted since I was old enough to pick up a brush, and I’ve played the harp for not quite that long – but still since I was pretty small. My first harp teacher was Jody Guinn (who is amazing, and if you google her, in the Salzedo Duo, her bio is ridiculous), and now I have Andrea Blanchfield who is one of my best friends! I do a ton of volunteer work rescuing dogs – at the SPCA in my county and for Last Resort Rescue. I run my own non-profit organization called Operation Storybook (www.operationstorybook.org) where we write and illustrate children’s books that are published in Ethiopia – we just started this year, and we hope to expand to other countries as well with our mission of creating educational opportunity via children’s books!

I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say, and I’ll try to keep it interesting… spicy… poppin!