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Keep Your New-Year Resolution… with Cupcakes!

Towards the end of January, the stick-to-it-ness of New Year’s resolutions is probably already waning. But if your resolutions included either eating more healthy or making more cruelty-free choices, I’ve got great news: there really is a way to have your cake and eat it, too!  Although I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, every once in a while I find that a cupcake is the perfect indulgence. First of all, I just think a cupcake is so pretty to look at; second, it’s a “just right”-sized somethin’ sweet. So whether you’re like me and prefer the fluffy white of frosting (maybe a few colorful sprinkles), or you’re a chocolate devotee, a cupcake is a way to treat yourself without completely abandoning your goal of eating more veggies and fewer sweets in 2011. And, these days, there are so many options to make sure that your cupcake is cruelty-free, whether you’re heading to a bakery, looking to make a quick dozen at home, or feeling the urge to bake some up from scratch. Bakeries: Even bakeries that do not tout themselves as “vegan” often will make a cruelty-free cupcake option — some have a cupcake of the day, and others will make some to order. With so many people looking for gluten-free and dairy-free options, bakeries are aiming to please. Here are a few bakeries I have personally sampled: Sticky Fingers (Washington D.C.) Sticky Fingers will always get top billing from me when it comes to cupcakes because it’s the bakery that supplied me with my milestone-birthday cupcakes while I was in D.C. last summer. We had white-cake cupcakes — some with vanilla frosting, and others with frosting that had fresh strawberries whipped in. Decadent. Luscious. And still amazingly light. Red Velvet Cupcakery (D.C. and Tucson) Red Velvet also was a D.C. discovery. There are two locations in the capital city: one was near my Dupont Circle apartment; the other, downtown. It was at  the downtown store, during intermission at the Lansburgh Theatre that’s across the street, where I sampled the chocolate cupcake. I was so delighted when months later I discovered there’s a Red Velvet right here in Tucson, just outside the university gates. It’s not a mass franchise, but the owner’s dad live here in Arizona. Red Velvet also makes mini-cupcakes, which we’ll be handing out soon at the law school for a Student Animal Legal Defense Fund event. MoonBabyCakes (San Francisco, North Beach) San Francisco, part of my heart is always with you! The North Beach neighborhood is a fave of mine — all things Italian, the cafes, City Lights Bookstore… and MoonBabyCakes. With a vegan...

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Adopt a Turkey!
Nov22

Adopt a Turkey!

Thanksgiving always has been a favorite holiday for me — as the days are getting shorter and colder, there’s something extra cozy about gathering family and friends together to share a good meal.  And it’s a wonderful time to enjoy just being together before all the holiday shopping and cocktail parties start taking over the social calendar.  The mornings are all about watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, whether we’re standing curbside or watching on television.  Watching from home, we’re also usually buzzing around, already cooking for the Thanksgiving dinner that will last most of the afternoon. Wrapping things up over coffee and dessert once the sun has already gone down, there’s an overwhelming sense of gratitude to go along with full bellies. We all have the opportunity to make a difference this and every Thanksgiving not only by what we choose to put on the table, but also by participating in Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey Project.  Since 1986, Farm Sanctuary, with locations in upstate New York and northern California, has rescued more than 1,000 turkeys.  For only $30, anyone can sponsor a turkey residing at either one of the sanctuaries.  Last month, we received our adoption certificate in the mail — we’ve adopted Kima, who resides at the New York sanctuary.  I liked the caption under her online photo: “Take the road less travelled and start a new Thanksgiving tradition with me.”  Right on, Kima! There’s also the option to literally adopt a turkey and bring it home. If you live in an area where you could become a  turkey’s caregiver, check out the online adoption application. Besides sponsorships and adoptions, Farm Sanctuary welcomes donations to help them in their efforts to protect all farm animals. Want to meet your turkey face to face?  You can visit Farm Sanctuary to experience first-hand all the great work they’re doing — that would be a terrific activity to share with a couple of friends, or with the kids! Cruelty-Free (Turkey-Free) Tips! In an Italian-American family that includes an antipasto, a pasta course, and tons of side dishes on the Thanksgiving menu, it’s easy enough to skip the turkey and still wind up with a full belly and no room for dessert!  However, if you and your Thanksgiving guests are open to having an alternative to the traditional bird, try a  Tofurky Feast (serves six, complete with stuffing and chocolate cake!) or the Vegan Whole Turkey by Vegetarian...

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Bagels

Are bagels vegan?  Thank God, the answer to this question is mostly yes!  The New Yorker in me insists on my Sunday morning spent with coffee, a bagel, and The New York Times.  I look forward to this Sunday morning ritual all week — my time to relax and also get back in touch with what’s happening in the world. The Arts & Leisure section and Book Review are like old friends. Back home, we take our bagels very seriously — no frozen bagels that taste like rolls for us!  H & H Bagels, by many considered the Mecca of bagels, is a bare-bones storefront that was right down the street from me when I was living at The Apthorp.  People love these bagels so much that many simply cannot do without: H & H ships world-wide; you can order them and have them delivered to you the very next day! Personally, my fave was Columbia Bagels up on 110th Street, near the university… a few subway stops north of H & H. Once Columbia Bagels moved its location to the East side, Broadway Bagel on 101st Street became my place, and I still visit whenever I’m in the neighborhood.  Here in Tucson, the franchise bagel store is the thing, and so I’ve been introduced to Bruegger’s Bagels and Einstein Bros. Bagels.  The morning-bagel routine has changed a bit here: we usually do a bagel run and bring the goods back home, so that the whole family gets to have breakfast together.  Our pups, Galileo and Otis, get to split a plain bagel.  Galileo likes Tofutti on his pieces; Otis prefers Smart Balance Light. While bagel territory seems to be mostly safe territory, your best bet is still going to be checking with your local bagel shop.  Of course, any bagel like “jalapeno-cheese” or “asiago” is not going to be dairy-free. Beyond the obvious, some bagel shops brush egg whites on the bagel-top to make the seeds or onion pieces stick, though this is not the norm.  But sometimes it gets a little more tricky: I recently found out that Einstein Bros. Bagels uses an amino acid called L-Cysteine as a dough conditioner, so its bagels are not vegan.  I’ve already put in a request at Einstein to create a “vegan” bagel as the sister to their “low-carb” option.  We’ll see what happens… Bagel Spreads Back in New York, the guys behind the counter knew my preference: I wasn’t two steps through the door before one of them would pop a cinnamon-raisin bagel in the microwave for me.  Not sliced.  Nothing on it. Just a simple, slightly warm, and slightly-sweet bagel to go along...

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Favorite Recent Finds

Every so often, I like to update you all with some recent finds. Here’s the latest scoop: Fashion: “Elite” Rain Boots by Earth Yes, I live in the desert, but even we have the monsoon season!  I love all my vegan shoes, and the last thing I want is to have them ruined in the rain.  Also, given the chance, I happen to like dancing — and singin’ — in the rain; I insist on looking fashionable while I do it, however.  My new Elite rain boots (which I found at Mooshoes) are practical, stylish, and comfortable. Food:  Candle Cafe Cookbook Specifically, the Asian-Baked Tofu recipe.  A block of tofu doesn’t look like anything too special, but I’m telling you a mouthful of this recipe is an explosion of flavor!  It took me a while to start using this cookbook because the recipes tend to have more ingredients than those in my other books.  In reality, the recipes are nothing too complex or time-consuming.  I’ve already tried several recipes… all fantastic!  I love the NYC restaurant Candle 79, and I love this cookbook.  A little piece of home for me here in Tucson, every time I cook something up! Household: Seventh Generation Dishwasher Powder I have used Trader Joe’s Dishwasher Powder for a long time; but there are weeks when visits to multiple stores is just not as do-able, so this is a great option for when I do the week’s shopping all at The Whole Foods Market. Personal Care & Cosmetics: Alba Botanica Natural Acne-dote So happy I found this simple, effective, and inexpensive deep pore wash.  As someone who knows me so well once remarked to me, I wear my stress on my face.  So my complexion needs a little extra help, especially in hectic times.  This is the cruelty-free alternative I’ve been looking for, for a long time.  Amen! Companion Animals: Dr. Harvey’s Barkotti I love my dogs.  I love anything Italian.  Need I say more? Miscellaneous: Rational Animal A non-profit in New York that uses media and special events to increase public awareness about NYC’s at-risk animals.  Bringing artists and musicians together to help the animals… right up my alley! Reminder: ELECTION DAY! Please be sure to vote tomorrow and support candidates who are friends to animals! Arizona: NO on Prop 109 to protect wildlife Missouri: YES on Prop B to stop puppy...

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Companion Animals Week! Bideawee

As promised, I’m going to wrap up my guest-blogging during this Companion Animal Week with an extra-special post.  Bideawee was founded in 1903, which makes it one of the oldest humane organizations in the United States.  The word bideawee means “stay awhile,” and that’s exactly what my big brother Pushkin did a long time ago when Bideawee rescued him, took care of him, and gave him enough time so that my mom could find him and adopt him.  Mom first wandered into the Bideawee adoption center on 38th Street and First Avenue on Thanksgiving weekend 1999.  It was love at first sight, but Pushkin had some medical issues that meant he couldn’t go home with Mom that day.  Among other things, he had heartworm, which needed two rounds of treatment.  Not only did Bideawee give him the treatment he needed, but they also gave him the time to heal — time that in an ordinary shelter, where the holding period for any animal is 3-5 days before being euthanized, he never would have had.  So, Pushkin stayed awhile; and until he was able to go home on January 22nd, Bideawee let my mom take him for walks and visit with him; and when he was quarantined, they let her sit in the pen with him and sing to him. In memory of my brother Pushkin, I’d like to encourage everyone to support Bideawee in the amazing work they do, including their adoption and veterinary services.  If you’re in New York City, please consider visiting the adoption center on 38th Street should you decide you’d like to add a new nonhuman member to the family.  Remember… this week is the New York Week for the Animals! For those of you outside NYC — there are shelters and adoption centers almost anywhere you live.  You can use Petfinder to find a dog or cat that needs a loving home.  I was born in Arizona, and my family found me with the help of a local organization called FAIR.  Please don’t support stores that rely on puppy mills, or buy from breeders, when there are already so many animals in need (many of them, running out of time) at local shelters.  Finally, you can help spread the word to “adopt don’t shop” by purchasing the Animal Rescue postage stamps. Thank you, Bideawee, for giving me a big...

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Fashion Week! MooShoes

I have mentioned MooShoes more than once. They were my source when I eliminated all leather from my wardrobe and had to start from scratch. They helped me build any entirely cruelty-free shoe collection, with purchases I made online and visits to their store on Orchard Street in NYC, and by cluing me in to all the fantastic vegan shoe designers that are out there these days. For that reason alone, I am a devoted customer and MooShoes enthusiast. Last January, sisters Erica and Sara Kubersky, founders of MooShoes, were honored with the “Progressive Business Award” award at the Celebrating Compassion Gala in New York City. I just think the sisters are super-cool. When I move back to Manhattan in a couple of years, I might start inviting them to my parties. If you have a look at their web site, you’ll see that they have all the bases covered. There is a wide selection of shoes for everyday and shoes for formal occasions. Flats, heels, sneakers, boots, women, men — all right here under one roof. What’s more, they have brought together great designers all under one roof. One of my favorite designers is Novacas, which I discovered thanks to MooShoes. I have medium-sized heels for work or semi-casual events, such as the “Bridget” design, which I have in black. These shoes look great with dresses, and they are so comfortable, I can wear them all day without getting blisters. That’s HUGE. At about $100 per pair, the price is right, too. I also bought my first pair of Macbeth sneakers from MooShoes. Additionally, I was able to quickly educate myself about other designers, including more upscale choices such as Olsen Haus and Beyond Skin; these are in a slightly higher price range, at about $225 per pair, but work well with cocktail and formal evening dresses. And if you join the MooShoes email list, you’ll get discount codes just about every month. The store on the Lower East Side is on my agenda each time I visit the city. The spacious set-up has plenty of choices without making me feel overwhelmed; it’s a serene place to shop, a welcoming environment. Off to one side, there’s a place for materials about different animal-rights organizations and animal-related events. (After my last visit, there were a few cards for Letters To Pushkin there, too). In addition to shoes, they also have select handbags and wallets (including some by Matt & Nat), tee-shirts, jackets, and belts. During my last visit to the store, I picked up a pair of black flats for me by Vegetarian Shoes (the “Ally,” $99) and also...

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