Parsnip Parsimony- A vegan baking and science blog.

“You’re crazy, Susie!”

I SO do not have time to blog right now.

Posted by Susie on November 5, 2007

BUT, its Veganmofo, and I have no choice but to study for the calculus test later and blog now.

It has been a very very homework-y week. I just took my online chemistry test (and messed up a few more questions than I would have liked), I have a calculus test tomorrow I need to make a note-sheet for (AND learn a bunch of math for..) , and this last week I had a bunch of random stuff due. Much more than normal.

So for today’s vegan mofo entry, I am going to tell you a couple of anecdotes about me, schoolwork, and vegan food. They will be short, because I really should get on this calculus.

When I was in baking school, I was obsessed with getting 100’s on all of my baking theory tests. There really isn’t normally any reason that someone would really benefit from getting a 100/100 instead of a 92/100. I went for the 100s though because it was a fun game. Baking theory class itself was hugely interesting to me, because it was kind of my introduction to food science, and I was fascinated. Both teachers I had while I was in baking school that taught baking theory were knowledgeable, and I found the contents of their lectures really cool, and because of this, paid attention to what they said. The things that were on their tests, however, were not on the things they talked about in class that were so fascinating. The test questions were mostly multiple choice, and were taken right out of sentences in the textbook- factoids like “if you are freezing dough, add exactly this percent yeast to the dough” (in reality, although it is important to know that some increase of yeast will probably be necessary for a successful frozen dough, I doubt that there is any truth to a rule governing the exact percent increase required, because freezing conditions just vary…) So it was silly stuff, mostly numbers, that was key to doing well on those tests. By the second quarter of baking school, I had established a strategy: pay attention to the real knowledge during the class lecture, then, the night before the test, read the whole section in the text that the test was to be on, and pay attention to all the numbers in order to recognize the answers to the ridiculous questions the next day. So I got 100s on those tests AND I never missed out on the authentic information that my teachers had, because I never distracted myself taking notes, unless I felt like I really wanted to remember some random fact. It really pissed off my classmates, who complained that I never took notes, and yet got scores of 100. When they gave me a hard time and said that there was no way I should have been able to do that, I just smiled and said, matter-of-factly, “Oh. Yeah. Thats because I’m vegan.”

It was the ONLY time I think I EVER implied during ALL of baking school that veganism was better than non-veganism. (Like I said before, I don’t like an arguing aproach to veganism promotion, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.)

Now. If only Calculus tests could be as easy as bakery theory tests.


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Susie’s Inaugural VeganMOFO Blog Entry.

Posted by Susie on November 4, 2007

Its the VEGAN MOnth of FOod, folk. I spaced out for the first two days of this month, but I am here and ready to be reckoned with for this third day of November, 2007. I don’t have my blog-skills quite down pat yet: I would really like to figure out how to put a link in a page as blue text, with the blue text saying something besides the URL, and I want to figure out how to make a links section for blogs and other sites which I enjoy.

VeganMOFO was Isa’s idea, over at, and now everyones doin’ it. I am way-way super excited about this idea, too. Pretty much what is going to happen is the “blog-o-sphere” is going to be flooded with talk of vegan food and its going to be really fun- Because everyone likes vegan food! (Right? Right.)

I’ve been posting on those PPK forums for a good while now, and I think they are dandy. However, all of my internet talk of vegan baking has been under the PPK’s big internet-umbrella, and I can only ramble on about food science for so long before I start to feel like I’m annoying the rest of the umbrella. Now, at long last, I have a blog of my own, where I can feel free to ramble about food science until the cows…. leave home? Or, um, until the cows do whatever it is thats best for the cows.


(And now Susie will talk about vegan food, as per VeganMOFO .)

How Susie went vegan, and how how Susie went vegan influenced her outlook on vegan activism.
I (had better stop switching between first and third person) was raised more or less vegetarian. My mom was vegetarian, and my dad only ate meat once in a while in the house, and that meat just wasn’t ever really offered to me or my sister. Vegetarian food was simply just what I ate. In middle school, there was a teacher who was organizing a “vegetarian club” and I went to one or two meetings. They were talking about animal rights, but maybe I was too young to really be affected, but all those descriptions of animal testing situations and factory farm conditions flew right over my head. Honestly, I didn’t really care about that stuff, I just didn’t eat meat!

About five years ago, during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I was taken by some of my friends to something called “Food not Bombs”. Food not Bombs was (and still is…) a DIY movement of sorts which works to take vegan food which will otherwise be wasted, cook it, and serve it up to the public for free. The particular instance I attended the Portland, Oregon Food not Bombs for the first time with my friends just so happened to be the first time I had ever rode the city bus from our little suburb (Vancouver, WA.) to the “big city” (Downtown Portland) It was also one of the handful of times I had ever been to Portland without a “real” adult. (I guess I was a little bit sheltered….) Anyway, when I stepped off that bus, walked to the Portland park blocks, got myself a big ol’ serving of Saturday Tofu Curry in a reused plastic tofu container, sat on the grass and nervously pulled grass out of the ground as I tried to act cool in front of a bunch of strangers, it was pretty damn thrilling. As I ate my tofu, I thought to myself: “This is awesome, all these people just sitting in the park eating their vegan food. They are so friendly and genuine. This food is really good! There must be something to this!” And about a week later, guess what I did? Thats right. I went vegan.

Okay. Fast forward five years. Last month I found an almost food science-y section in the school library. I picked up a title called “Why we eat what we eat” (editor: E Capaldi). I am not very much of a psychologist, and am not very much qualified to interpret correctly this book to you, but the book has got me thinking about the psychology of food choices. It suggests that, for instance, an individuals affinity for a particular food can be increased by eating that food with another food he or she already likes (to the extent that the individual will like the food more even when it is not eaten with the other food). More applicable to this post, the book suggests that eating particular foods during positive experiances (i.e. with people you like while you are having a good time) will also increase an individuals affinity for a particular food. This idea explains to me why I chose to go vegan after going to food not bombs with my friends, even when I already knew the animal rights “reasons” I should be vegan long before that. It was the new and exciting social atmosphere that got associated with vegan food in my mind that gave me a real incentive to go vegan. And so vegan I went, without anyone saying “GO VEGAN!” to me, all they did was serve me up some curried tofu while I was having a good time.

I don’t mean, of course, to imply that vegan outreach techniques which are focused on animal rights education are useless, in fact, they are pretty important. Its just that I don’t like to tell people about the injustices caused by their choice of lunch; as a promoter of veganism, I would much rather make them an alternative lunch. (Oh god, I THINK I used the semicolon right. Someone tell me if its not needed.) Or, as the case may be, an alternative cake, or waffle, or puff pastry, or angel food cake, and thats why I’m here now, to promote veganism in my own, roundabout way. Just don’t make me argue with anyone about animal rights.

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Here I am. This is a blog. I will not flake on this. I am a vegan mofo.

Posted by Susie on November 4, 2007

I spent the greater part of the afternoon thinking up the title of this blog. I wanted to call it “The Vegan Alchemist”, but I was not so keen on channeling Tobias from Arrested Development… So here we are. How ’bout them parsnips?

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