Virtual Serotonin

What a Babe!

4 people holding out cellphones in front of an illustrated pastel rainbow.
4 people holding out cellphones in front of an illustrated pastel rainbow.
Design: Summer Anne Burton

There is real contentment to be found in browsing Wikipedia — learning about resolutely antisocial animals; chortling at the solemnly literal List of Lists of Lists; or streaming a television series, phone in hand, scrolling through the cast’s filmography. History is usually recorded by the most powerful, and even with Wikipedia’s egalitarian ethos of gathering information, it’s not entirely trustworthy. But it’s a solid starting point, and I consult Wikipedia so often that its presence in my browser history is as good as a diary when the days merge into one — what on earth was I doing on Tuesday? …


Aquafaba Files

Lifehack: Use leftover chickpea brine to make yourself a giant tray of warmly comforting, crispy mini-churros. Enjoy.

A photo of a plate piled high with homemade golden fried churros, tube-shaped dough that’s dusted in sugar and cinnamon
A photo of a plate piled high with homemade golden fried churros, tube-shaped dough that’s dusted in sugar and cinnamon
Photos: Laura Vincent

The Aquafaba Files is a Tenderly recipe series by Laura Vincent, exploring the almost suspicious versatility of this ingredient that is little more than the leftover liquid from a drained can of chickpeas.

Despite the length of the ingredients list and instructions, these churros are quite simple. They’re mostly flour and water, and there is as much preparing to cook as there is actual cooking.

Churros are a fried delicacy traditional to Spain and Portugal, eaten throughout much of South America and parts of North America [Editor’s shoutout to the NYC subway station churro vendors], but as a New Zealander it was only in the last decade that I tried them for the first time. …


Bartenderly

Whether your mood is best buoyed by booze-on-booze or caffeine-on-caffeine, we got you covered

A trio of cocktails photographed from above: one is in a martini glass w orange peel, one tall w foam, one dark on the rocks
A trio of cocktails photographed from above: one is in a martini glass w orange peel, one tall w foam, one dark on the rocks
L-R: Rum Hanky Panky, Black Velvet, Double Shift. Photos: Laura Vincent

Want a cocktail veganized? Bought a bottle of something and don’t know what to do with it? Need a cool mocktail? Want to make your own liqueur? We’ll drink to that. Bartenderly is here to make all your vegan drinking dreams come true. If you want to check on whether a specific brand of alcohol is vegan, I recommend Barnivore.

You don’t need me to tell you that this year is intense, and has been throwing literally all of us challenge after challenge on every conceivable front. What I can offer you, however, is a drink to match this energy. These three cocktails evoke a certain nihilistic chaos, while also drawing from the canon of the classics — sure, they’re a little outrageous, but they’re also outrageously good. …


What better way to view the world than with animals in mind?

A simple ink drawing of two round dogs staring at a small snail — with the first aphorism below printed underneath them.
A simple ink drawing of two round dogs staring at a small snail — with the first aphorism below printed underneath them.
Illustration source: Kamisaka Sekka (1909) via New York Public Library/RawPixel; design: Summer Anne Burton; aphorism: Laura Vincent

The aphorism is a perceptive truism, a saying which allows us to recognize some aspect of life in a simple but meaningful way. Their success can be their downfall — many is the aphorism which started off witty and is now considered a cliche through overuse. Cliche or not, the truth at the core of many of them remains.

When I’m not writing about food, my words are used in composing poetry and writing a novel, and in order to metaphorically dunk my tired brain in ice-cold water, I wrote some aphorisms of my own as a creative exercise. The list ended up being almost entirely about animals.

Whether or not these following aphorisms are hard-hitting, poetically philosophical truths or just plain goofy is up to you — but what better way to view the world than with animals in mind?

Hold a mirror to the dog to know how a person should be.

With legs uncertain and no experience, the newborn giraffe nevertheless tries!

Cuteness is not morally weighted.
But even the wasp, in slumber, becomes adorable.

The capybara radiates peacefulness from every possible angle.
We must learn what they know.

A beautifully colored illustration of two ruby and glowing orange goldfish, plus the aphorism below printed above them.
A beautifully colored illustration of two ruby and glowing orange goldfish, plus the aphorism below printed above them.
Illustration source: Ohara Koson (1927) via Rijksmuseum/RawPixel; design: Summer Anne Burton; aphorism: Laura Vincent

The smallest subversion still subverts.
Everyone forgets goldfish have long-term memories.

The Skua’s Latin name means ‘of dung.’
If your given name doesn’t suit you, change it. Do it for the Skua.

One may respect the personal space of the many-fanged lamprey without ever meeting them.

Does the shark walk the earth in search of revenge? No. Should we rule this eventuality out completely? Also, no.

A sloth rescued is a sloth rescued.
No further reward is required.

To touch the soft underbelly of a cat is to briefly know both immortality and certain death.

Ask not what your guinea pig can do to entertain you, but what you can do to entertain your guinea pig.

Even the most poisonous jellyfish is valid in ways our institutions could not measure!

Laugh at the hippo wallowing in mud,
while paying rent to a landlord for a house with no air conditioning.

Sheep are not stupid — they have their reasons.
We are too stupid to comprehend them.

A classic, richly colored illustration of mice surrounding a small branch next to a lake with the text of the aphorism below.
A classic, richly colored illustration of mice surrounding a small branch next to a lake with the text of the aphorism below.
Illustration source: John Woodhouse Audubon (1845) via New York Public Library/RawPixel; Design: Summer Anne Burton; Aphorism: Laura Vincent

To recognize yourself in the countenance of a small rodent
Is to rest for a moment in the palm of god’s hand.

The worst-behaved of dogs is better than the best-behaved of us.

A beautiful ink sketch-type illustration of a cat in a chair with the aphorism below typed next to the cat.
A beautiful ink sketch-type illustration of a cat in a chair with the aphorism below typed next to the cat.
Illustration source: Jane Poupelet (1900) via The Cleveland Museum of Art/RawPixel; design: Summer Anne Burton; aphorism: Laura Vincent

Should you suspect your vivid dream holds meaning, tell it to a cat…
They will provide the correct answer.


Aquafaba Files

This fluffy vegan ice cream doesn’t require an ice cream maker, nuts, or milk — but it does draw on the magical properties of aquafaba

A fresh scoop of deep purple berry ice cream from a carton of the same rich looking ice cream.
A fresh scoop of deep purple berry ice cream from a carton of the same rich looking ice cream.
Photos: Laura Vincent

The Aquafaba Files is a Tenderly recipe series by Laura Vincent, exploring the almost suspicious versatility of this ingredient that is little more than the leftover liquid from a drained can of chickpeas.

This was intended to be a sorbet recipe, but the aquafaba had other plans. Traditionally, egg whites are added to sorbet, to improve its texture upon freezing. …


Cooking with fat, the vegan way

A plated of roasted parsnips, red beets, withered confited tomatoes, potatoes, and thyme.
A plated of roasted parsnips, red beets, withered confited tomatoes, potatoes, and thyme.
Photos: Laura Vincent

Fat rules. It makes food comforting, rich, balanced. Tender, crisp, caramelized, delicious. Watching Samin Nosrat’s exquisite series Salt Fat Acid Heat affirmed this long-held fixation of mine — fat is crucial to cooking.

I’m happiest when there are rivers of olive oil running through my food. A drizzle of earthy peanut oil, a toasty bead of sesame oil, a creamy spoonful of coconut oil. Dripping off sun-dried tomatoes, or the glossy coating on salad leaves. The way it pools invitingly in a jar of homemade nut butter, or emulsifies cooperatively in a cake batter.

And then there’s one of the best ways to wallow in the wonders of oil — confit. This traditional French process is a preservation method, where food is cooked submerged in fat very slowly and then stored, still submerged, until required. Although it’s generally associated with meat preservation, there’s no reason why you can’t apply the same idea to vegetables that you want to eat with relative immediacy. …


A rectangular sheet pan pizza with crispy, browned potatoes and basil and pine nuts, next to 4 retro Baby-Sitters Club books
A rectangular sheet pan pizza with crispy, browned potatoes and basil and pine nuts, next to 4 retro Baby-Sitters Club books
Photos: Laura Vincent

A richly satisfying vegan pizza recipe, in tribute to an unbelievably satisfying TV-watching experience

In Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel Brideshead Revisited, Captain Charles Ryder realizes he will be returning with his battalion to the same castle where he spent much of his youth. This unexpected reminder of times past shakes him to his very skeleton, and the outside world is silenced as he’s left in a trance, absolutely kneecapped by memories. That was me, when I saw the distinctive handwriting of Kristy Thomas in the opening credits of Netflix’s new series, The Baby-Sitters Club.

The Baby-Sitters Club books were no mere source of entertainment during my formative years. They were a whole world operating in parallel to mine, and only when I’d got the obligations of my own existence out of the way, could I gratefully retreat into the more preferable lives of the baby-sitters. Back in January, I wrote about the series character Dawn Schafer and her vegetarianism, and assumed upon completion that there was not much more for me to say about The Baby-Sitters Club.


Pet Sounds

From Thee Stallion to the Doves and Swans, this playlist is wild and wonderful

vintage illustration of cats playing musical instruments to sheet music
vintage illustration of cats playing musical instruments to sheet music
Illustration: Public Domain Pictures

We’ve made playlists with songs celebrating dogs, horses, birds, and even the most uncelebrated members of the animal kingdom — and now it’s time for songs by the artists themselves with a creature in their name.

From Megan Thee Stallion to Cat Power, these musicians are clearly feeling the love for animals as much as we do.

1. ‘I Asked For Water’ — Howlin’ Wolf

Is there a more visceral opening line to a song than “I asked for water, she brought me gasoline?”

2. ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ — Cat Power

A consummate cover version, this is sultry, weary, and made something quite new from its source material.

3. ‘Made up in Blue’ — The Bats

Lyrically poetic, melodically scurrying.

4. ‘Just Too Bloody Stupid’ — Close Lobsters

This sprauncy, jangly tune pairs with the previous Bats song like a fine wine with a second glass of fine wine. …


3 + 1 + 1

Just 3 to 5 ingredients can make a plant-based sausage roll that would make any New Zealander proud

Image for post
Image for post
Photos: Laura Vincent

Take three ingredients, take one more if you want, and then — maybe — take just one more. It’s as simple as that. These very straightforward recipes can be made with minimum effort and ingredients, but the more things you add, the better they get. The only ingredient I’m going to assume you have already is salt and pepper, everything else gets added to the total. However, feel free to use these ideas as starting points for your own experimenting based on what you have to hand.

Despite its similarity to “pigs in blankets,” the sausage roll is not a foodstuff of widespread renown in the USA. If you’re unfamiliar with the sausage roll, this simple combination of sausage wrapped in puff pastry is immensely popular in my country — New Zealand — whereas curiously, pigs in blankets are pretty uncommon for us. …


Aquafaba Files

An ideal biscuit — for breakfast, for the side of a bowl of beans or grits, and for literally any time or place you need a biscuit

Image for post
Image for post
Photos: Laura Vincent

The Aquafaba Files is a Tenderly recipe series by Laura Vincent, exploring the almost suspicious versatility of this ingredient that is little more than the leftover liquid from a drained can of chickpeas.

As with my cornbread, I was apprehensive about presenting a recipe for such an archetypal American food as biscuits, when I live thousands of miles away from that country. I do love a quick bread — from the relatively similar scones, beloved in my home of New Zealand, to soda bread, beer bread and numerous others. …

About

Laura Vincent

Food blogger and author from New Zealand. Writing at hungryandfrozen.com; Twitter at @hungryandfrozen; and exclusive stuff at Patreon.com/hungryandfrozen.

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