Saturday, March 27, 2010

It is all Marie Antoinette’s fault --or, Why I cannot be a vegan

I do not like breakfast.  Well, not at breakfast time anyway.  This is at least partly my Mom’s fault because she doesn’t like breakfast right after she wakes up.  She rarely cooked what most would consider a “proper” breakfast except occasionally on Sunday night for supper.  My Dad liked breakfast but he also liked having it in a local restaurant with some friends where he ate  things like livermush, grits and eggs and they discussed sports and politics, or after a few hours of driving at the start of a vacation, which was OK with us kids and Mom because that usually meant pancakes or waffles and chocolate milk after we’d been awake and arguing for several hours as siblings do on car rides.

On the rare occasions when we kids were younger and my mother escaped from home for a few days on a trip to the beach or some church women’s conference and we were left with my Dad,   all he knew how to cook was scrambled eggs - and fried baloney (When fried. it is definitely baloNEY and not boloGNA even if Oscar Meyer made it and quite frankly except for how cute that song is when little kids sing it in commercials I think Congress should officially change the spelling to baloney since even in the commercials for B-O-L-O-G-N-A, the words are “My BALONEY has a first name…..”  couldn’t some hot shot advertising exec find a word to rhyme with ‘Y’?)

But I ramble…..

On school days I preferred a few minutes of extra sleep to even a bowl of cereal and truth be told I’ve never really liked eggs unless hardboiled and mixed with exactly the correct amount of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and made into a sandwich on really good wholegrain bread with lots of seeds - and maybe a little lettuce.  Because my Mom didn’t care for breakfast either she was quite satisfied if we made a glass of Carnation Instant Breakfast or carried a fresh out of the toaster Pop Tart in the car on the ride to school.  We had to eat something!  No good mother would allow her children to go to school with an empty stomach no matter how much I might protest that if she made me eat something I was going to throw up in the car , or on the ball field during 10th grade when I had PE for first period.

How stupid is that for a 15 year old girl?  Gotta get up, get dressed, including hair and makeup and then go to school and change into a gross awful smelly gym suit that we were only allowed to take home to wash once a week and then get all sweaty playing some stupid sport that I always hated and then get dressed all over again in a steamy stinky locker room.  I really did want to throw up then.

But on test days - achievements tests, IQ tests, PSAT, SAT, things like that, - Mom always made us a full cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon, grits, toast, juice, and milk.  I probably associate breakfast with the terrible stress caused by those tests and that is why as soon as I got to college I gave it up all together.  It was only after I was out of graduate school and could pick up a coffee and danish on my way into the office in Manahttan that I started eating anything again before noon.

But what does all this have to do with being a vegan you ask?  Well, I have just completed the 21 Day Vegan Kick Start sponsored by Physicians for Responsible Medicine.  They do this several times a year and put helpful hints, menus, recipes nutritional information, doctor’s suggestions and the  requisite celeb pointers (I just ignored those because I. Hate. Celeb. Pointers. - especially when they don’t know one iota more about the subject than I do.) Anyway, I think the next challenge is in September if you are interested.   I am pretty damn proud of myself for making it through the 21 days.  I only slipped twice and on one of those times it was because how was I to know that vegetarian chicken strips have eggs in them (well, I guess I could have read the label before I ate them but who woulda thought it? I mean, what do eggs have to do with chickens?   Oh… well… now, that is part of the problem.

As I have mentioned before, living with Toby who has been a vegetarian for over 7 years convinced me that I should give it a try again.  And reading all about it convinced me that if I was going to make a commitment to not eating animals I should really let them off the hook entirely for my food production and should forego eggs, milk, butter and cheese as well.  Most of my friends predicted a difficulty with cheese, which surprisingly has not been the case.  The problem my friends is eggs, butter and milk.

 Actually, the problem is CAKE.

I am not a baker.  Believe me when I tell you that Marie Antoinette did not mean that even starving peasants should ever be forced to eat a cake that I baked. (It is not relevant to this argument whether or not M.A. ever really said anything about cake or bread or even realized there were peasants outside the palace, it just makes a good point OK? So let the historical accuracy slide Dr. David)

 If you want cake you should get may sister to make it for you, or her mother-in-law or any one of my friends Mary, Carol or Sarah, fabulous cake bakers all.  I just like to eat it.  For breakfast.

When I wake up I want a large cup of very strong (preferably Italian Roast) black coffee and a little slice of something sweet.  I do not like croissants unless they are pain au chocolate and in that case I’ll have deux, s’il vous plait,  and while good toast with excellent marmalade will do in a pinch it is never my first choice. 

The best breakfast cake  in the world is either Scottish Dundee Cake

                                                                      or Claxton Fruit Cake 

- well that is if you can’t get someone who really loves you  to make you a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting using Flossie Harwell’s recipe. 
 Now that my peeps, is pure chocolate heaven!

So you see my problem.  I can’t be  a vegan and have cake for breakfast and I can’t be a happy person eating something else - and as I have pointed out I am a disaster at baking regular cakes so trying to hobble something together without milk, eggs or butter is just wrong.  So I will be a happy vegetarian, but not a vegan.  Do not misunderstand me. I. Will. Never. Eat. Meat. (or any other animal) Ever. Again.  We’ll have to chat a bit about all of that at a later time.

But I will have cake for breakfast and every day I will thank the chickens and cows for their contributions.


  1. Let's talk about my love affair for warm yellow cake scraps, which I had for dinner many a night when we had the bakery in Austin!

  2. I couldn't be a vegetarian. I completely laud your 3-week endeavor. Also? Went to Earth Fare yesterday and spent $30 on cheese. THIRTY DOLLARS. That's INSANE. But I LOVE cheese. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. And I love having interesting cheeses to choose from. In Lton, it's yellow, white or orange. Also? I love meat. But that's like, a whole different story.

  3. I'm new to your blog - loved it. I was a vegetarian for 20 years, because my mother is the world's worst cook. People think I'm exaggerating, but at least three ex-boyfriends can back this up. She cooks with resentment (father won't boil water without complaint) and so, when I went away to college, I had the freedom NOT to eat anything that reminded me of home. 20 years later, I came around, thanks to a mother-in-law who loves to cook. And me.

  4. Only problem with cake... is wheat!!! :-(

  5. I never quite understood the eggs issue with vegans. If we don't eat chickens and we don't eat their eggs, guess what happens to chickens. Did you guess they go extinct? Chickens aren't exactly designed to live in the wild and they won't be living on farms if we stop eating them and their eggs. We buy free range organic chicken eggs. So the chickens are treated pretty well and the eggs taste better.

  6. Wow, can't believe I stumbled on this... ha ha and yes, you've never had a cake until you've had what we call the Nanny Chocolate cake...

    Jaycee's 30 Minute Cake
    AKA Nannie Chocolate Cake

    2 c sifted flour
    2 c sugar
    1 tsp baking soda
    3 tbs cocoa
    1 c water
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 sticks butter
    1/2 c buttermilk
    2 eggs

    Mix sugar & flour in large bowl. Mix together butter, water, and cocoa in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and pour this over flour mixture. Mix well, add eggs, vanilla, milk, and baking soda. Bake in one large pan or four layers. Bake at 350 degrees until done.


    1 stick butter
    6 tablespoons milk
    3 tablespooons cocoa
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 box powdered sugar
    1/2 c brown sugar

    Mix together butter, brown sugar, milk, and cocoa in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and pour over powdered sugar. Beat this mixture until it becomes spreading consistency. Spread over layer cake or in between layers and on top and sides of layered cake.