Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Whale of an Appetite!

I'm a vegan for animal rights. Sure, my diet's positive effect on my health is nice. But that's not what drives me. That's not what keeps me going. I used to be way more active in animal rights work. I co-founded a little activist group called Memphis Area Animal Rights Activists back in the mid-2000s, and we held actions at KFCs, circuses, Petco, and pretty much anywhere PETA sent us. I also used to be very involved in Memphis' Food Not Bombs chapter. But time has made me lame, and now veganism (and this blog) is my only activism.

But I can live vicariously through other animal rights activists who are out there doing radical things to stand up for those who don't have a voice. One of those awesome activist collectives is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Since 1977, they've been using their own sea vessels to block and disable whaling ships. Sometimes, they shine lasers into the eyes of whalers, and other times they seize and destroy drift nets. They even throw smelly butyric acid onto whaling vessels! If you've seen Whale Wars on Animal Planet, you know all about these awesome activists.

It sounds like hard (and scary) work, and these hardcore activists spend long periods at sea to fight the good fight. And while at sea, you gotta eat! The food served aboard the Sea Shepherd's vessels is always vegan, and it's prepared by a team of skilled chefs. One of those is Laura Dakin, and she's just put out a new cookbook of the recipes she whips up to serve in the mess hall on their ship, the Steve Irwin. I recently received a copy of Cookin' Up a Storm: Sea Stories and Vegan Recipes.

This is part cookbook, part Sea Shepherd memoir. It's filled with both recipes and stories from crew members and Captain Paul Watson (founder of Sea Shepherd) himself. It's a full-color, glossy book with lots of pictures of marine life and scenes from the Sea Shepherd vessels.

So many of the recipes called to me, but I finally settled on Bob Barker Yum Bowls.

The Bob Barker (named for the awesome vegetarian Price Is Right host) is one of their vessels, and this is a recipe from it's galley. It's a layered bowl with a creamy, dreamy sauce. There's brown rice, black beans, corn, roasted potatoes, tomato, and avocado. And that's all topped with a sauce made from silken tofu, almonds, chickpeas, nooch, curry, and herbs. I seriously couldn't stop licking the Vitamix after whipping up this sauce. I loved it on the bowl, but I will probably start using this sauce for everything — over broccoli, over pasta, over nachos, whatever!

Of course, many of the recipes in this book are vegan versions of seafood. There are breaded and fried Fish-Free Cakes made with tofu, chickpeas, and nori. And there's Taste of the Sea Spaghetti, which includes a marinara spiked with nori.

But it's not all fishy stuff. Because the ships are often cruising through cool temps, there are lots of warming soups and stews — Chickpea Noodle Soup for the Vegan Soul, Polar Potato & Leek Soup, and even Captain Paul's Habitat Split Pea Soup.

Sides include Wicked Wine-Soaked Mushrooms (with white wine!), Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Onions (even though Captain Paul discusses his aversion to sweet potatoes in an interview in the book), and Asian-Style Stuffed Dumplings (filled with carrots, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, and spices).

The bake their own bread aboard the ships, so there are plenty of bread recipes and tips on baking the perfect loaf. And of course, no one should be stuck at sea without sweets. There's the Captain's Favorite Carrot Cake, Raw Cheesecake to the Rescue, and Chocolate-Banana Fudge Cake. And there's even a spiked snowcone called the Antarctic Tropical Canadian Delight (shaved ice with maple syrup and coconut rum!). Cheers, Sea Shepherd!


Hillary said...

Wow, this book sounds amazing! I love the names they have come up with. I had not even heard of this book, will have to keep my eye out for it!

vegan.in.brighton said...

Laura's so awesome! When I organised Brighton's WWVBS she baked some delicious treats for the stall and I still think about her coconut ball things today - I don't s'pose that recipe's in the book?

Bianca said...

Hey Jojo, I'll look and see if that recipe is in there. I'm at the office now, and the book is at home.

Anonymous said...

I read your review, checked out its preview and bought the book. This is a really great book. I appreciate its honest approach and now have another list of " honey did you see this" to cook. Thank you. BTW, your book is dog-eared in my collection.