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Mona Williams's Profile

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Waste not, want not

Cresyd, I agree about always having a good variety of ingredients on hand. But I am (slowly) learning to buy less--the smallest butternut squash, not that nice big one. (I mostly cook just for myself.) Also I am trying to cook smaller amounts, even though I love the idea of having leftovers ready to eat. Variety, again. I find it only takes one unexpected lunch or dinner with a friend and maybe one of those occasional and necessary nothing-but-dessert meals to throw all my leftover plans out of whack. True, I spend more time cooking this way, but none of it is wasted!

Dec 20, 2012
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

It's hard for me to talk about research when I don't have the studies at hand. But I read enough study results to convince myself that veganism was a healthy way to go, always with the caveat that it be done with some care.

May 19, 2011
Mona Williams in Food Media & News

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

You have touched on an issue that troubled me a lot during the years I was trying to be a vegan. Despite my wish to be altruistic and other-centered, I knew I was ultimately doing it for myself. I simply enjoyed the good feelings I got out of being a vegan more than I would have enjoyed eating whatever it was. That is selfish too!

Shaming people is something I never wanted to do, but it is hard to avoid, as others have pointed out as well, when you are talking about your own ethics being somehow different from theirs. The carrot is definitely better. The person who becomes a vegan for health reasons is helping the animals just as much as the one who becomes a vegan for ethical reasons. And I think PETA and PCRM (Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine) are recognizing this more and more in the kind of advocacy they do.

One other point about carrot vs. stick: I hope the days of flinging blood (even washable) onto people's fur coats and other such violent protests are gone for good. I was saying to my friend just this morning that through my telephone conversations and email correspondence with Cabot Creamery I have become convinced that they are humane producers, and I will be happy to promote them, and others like them, any way I can. That is a carrot too!

May 19, 2011
Mona Williams in Food Media & News

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

"Any diet that causes deficiency diseases and other conditions is not ethical and clearly not meant for human sustenance."

I agree. There have been cases of vegan (also meat-eating!) parents doing harm to their children by not feeding them properly. But when supplemented with Vitamin B-12, veganism is not an inherently harmful diet. Doing it right, however, especially in the matter of providing sufficient protein to growing children, is not easy. The parent who wants to raise vegan children therefore takes on a serious responsibility

May 19, 2011
Mona Williams in Food Media & News

Dissapointing Dinner at Friends House

Oh. Sharp intake of breath. So sorry for you.

May 19, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Dissapointing Dinner at Friends House

I agree. In your analysis, conscientiousness comes across as a stronger, more admirable virtue than empathy, in that its expression requires more effort. We can be empathetic with no more than a kind word, or even just a feeling, but a conscientious person does something about her feelings of empathy. It's been a long time since I read it, but William James (I think it was) urged that anyone experiencing an elevated feeling as a result of an encounter with art should find a way to express it concretely in his life.

May 19, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

whatever happened to carob?

I will try that. Also, carob soymilk is available. I have found it unobjectionable, but then I find (most) soymilk unobjectionable, and I know not everyone does. In the case of carob (or chocolate) soymilk, the flavoring is usually strong enough to mask any grassiness or chalkiness you might otherwise get from the soy.

May 18, 2011
Mona Williams in General Topics

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

I think when you call yourself (as I used to) an "ethical vegan," it has a bit of a "holier than thou" sound. It's almost as if I'm questioning the ethics of other people, which they don't take well to. I try to be more nuanced in my explanations now. Also, I live in an agricultural region that has quite a bit of animal agriculture going on, some of it quite humane, some of it, who knows? I was at pains to refer to the humane producers I know of in the essay I submitted. Still, around here, vegans, and possibly vegetarians, are often seen as taking the bread out of farmers' mouths, especially if they do any kind of advocacy.

May 18, 2011
Mona Williams in Food Media & News

Pronounce "Gouda", Please.

As my friend says, the problem is that the Dutch can't say "g." :>)

May 18, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Dissapointing Dinner at Friends House

I agree with sunshine--I wanted to do the food for my (last) wedding, and did, but I had to make some compromises (brownies instead of wedding cake!!) and after it was all over I found a tray of mini-quiches in the fridge that I had worked so hard on and forgotten, in all the excitement, to put out.

May 18, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Dissapointing Dinner at Friends House

" the husband proved to be very teachable once he was single. Happily, he is now engaged to a lovely woman who has been showing him how adults in friendships behave."

What a nice ending to the story! We can learn. I think lack of empathy is a big factor in the stories we have been telling, and unfortunately, not everyone starts out equal in this regard. I know I had a lot to learn about empathy, and am still learning. I am grateful for the example of others who are farther along.

In the early seventies, I lived in Iran with my Iranian husband, and so was quite immersed in the culture. These were the most hospitable people I have ever known. I still think about the kindness and thoughtfulness of my Iranian friends and in-laws whenever I have guests. They are my gold standard.

May 18, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Dissapointing Dinner at Friends House

Really--just food and water!! I am thinking about starting to carry a bag of pumpkin seeds in my purse, just in case.

May 18, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Dissapointing Dinner at Friends House

You reminded me of a Halloween party I went to long ago given by a bunch of very young people, much younger than I was. They had invited a ton of people and didn't have much money. They served potatoes--small ones that they had boiled and set out in big containers, which may have been just regular old cardboard boxes from the supermarket. But there was STUFF TO PUT ON THE POTATOES! I thought it was wonderful.

May 18, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

What regional foods do people just get wrong?

I think that's what he meant. I know it was a surprise to me, at least. But that was a long time ago!

May 17, 2011
Mona Williams in General Topics

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

Well, just in the post a few posts up. I am trying to focus more on humane practices and less on "rules." As I put it in the piece I wrote, I want to be less of a perfectionist. But I also don't want to slight the many vegans I know and admire for sticking to their principles. I have really never known a vegan who wasn't in it for the animals' sake. Well yes, one, who just became a vegan after he read the China Study. He makes sure to tell everyone he is not a believer in "animal rights." LOL

May 17, 2011
Mona Williams in Food Media & News

Those you know who actually only "eat to live"? [from General Topics]

When I was a vegan (not so much anymore), I used to actually feel sorry for people who weren't having the intense flavor experiences I was. I believed (and still do) that the best flavors come from plants.

May 17, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Dissapointing Dinner at Friends House

I am afraid it took me much too long to figure that out. We don't see each other anymore.

May 17, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Dissapointing Dinner at Friends House

I once drove hundreds of miles to visit a friend for a couple of days and was served--nothing. No breakfast, and the other meals out, because that was what she did. Having already spent a lot on gas and a nice present for her, I was expected, in addition, to pay for my own restaurant meals. This woman was much better off financially than I was, and I do think this was a case of lack of empathy.

May 17, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

I read what you said with interest. It made me think of something Charles Sanders Peirce said: "To learn, one needs to desire to learn and desire it without resting satisfied with that which one is inclined to think." This seems to be a hard topic to discuss. I sent a piece summarizing my current views on veganism to our local radio station. They were very interested in it until, suddenly, they weren't.

May 17, 2011
Mona Williams in Food Media & News

Creative Supermarket Signs

That made me laugh out loud.

May 16, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Creative Supermarket Signs

My friend and I just got back from the supermarket, where we saw very small watermelons being advertised as "Personal Watermelons." We thought that was so funny--somehow, "personal watermelon" doesn't have quite the ring to it that "personal pizza" does. Does anyone else have examples of funny/overly enthusiastic supermarket signs?

May 16, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Question: When you say, "I Hate . . . .

"Hate, in this context, just means 'NO' as emphatically as possible."

Well said.

May 15, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Question: When you say, "I Hate . . . .

When I lived in Iran in the seventies, raw, whole onions (complete with peel) were routinely served with chelokebab (kebab with rice) in the chelokebab restaurants. People would smash them with their fists before eating them. I didn't do it, but it was fun to watch.

May 15, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

"Foodie" doesn't suit me...

"Foodie" sounds a little too much like "greedy" to me. Not that I'm not that . . . Also, I feel like I'm being a little look-at-me when I put a label on myself. I'd rather, like Belovedoflis, just say what I like and what I do.

May 15, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Pronounce "Gouda", Please.

Another one--In the late eighties, I took a job in the kitchen of a trendy restaurant. The chef told me there was going to be a new kind of bread on the menu--something called foe-ka-seeya. I had just come back from a month in Italy, where I had eaten a lot of focaccia. When I murmured the correct pronunciation, I was brushed off with, "Well, there are different ways to say it." Yeah, but not anymore.

May 15, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Pronounce "Gouda", Please.

Many years ago, I told my date I thought a Médoc would go well with our meal, properly pronouncing the final "c." I have forgotten his name, but I still remember his supercilious, "May-doe, my dear." I guess there's such a thing as trying too hard.

May 13, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

I have in recent months been reevaluating my 10+ year experiment with veganism. There is no question that it is difficult, sometimes frustrating in nice restaurants, sometimes painful when a guest in someone's home, and not always even logical (I wanted mainly to have an economic impact, however small, on the factory-farming industry, which I saw as cruel to animals, but I was also reluctant to eat nonvegan foods that other people had paid for). Now it makes more sense to me to focus on just the cruelty issue, and I look for eggs, cream, etc., that have been humanely produced and happily pay the higher price. I still don't eat animal flesh, however humanely raised and slaughtered the animals were, because it has become distasteful to me, not so much because I am philosophically opposed.

May 12, 2011
Mona Williams in Food Media & News

The master of the toothpick - what is the proper etiquette?

I used to carry dental floss in my puse for this situation. When a chef I was working with on a catering job proclaimed that he would give $100 for a piece of dental floss, I offered him mine, but I didn't get the $100.

May 09, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

Bad Restaurant Names

A chef I once knew told me he wanted to open a restaurant called The Dead Chicken. I thought it would probably attract a certain crowd.

May 09, 2011
Mona Williams in Not About Food

New to Vegan

Here is a recipe for chickpeas that I just love. I would happily eat it as a main course, but I think it could pass for a side dish too.

1 lb dried chickpeas

1/4 c olive oil

1/2 t dried rosemary, crumbled

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 t coarsely ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

2 t salt

Wash the chickpeas and soak in a pot in water to cover by about 1” for about 8 hours. Add the other ingredients, except the salt, cover and cook on low heat until the beans are tender, about 1-2 hours, adding water if necessary. Add the salt when the beans are tender, then uncover, raise heat and cook until liquid is reduced. Serve hot or cold.

Makes about 6 cups.

May 05, 2011
Mona Williams in Home Cooking