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Vegetarian Week

Friday, February 24, 2012

Time to make the seitan, Upton's expands its reach

Posted By on 02.24.12 at 04:34 PM

I had to pester a good number of locals during the assembly of last November's collaborative guide to vegan and vegetarian Chicago. One of the issue's most helpful participants was Daniel Staackmann, the main man at seitan makers Upton's Naturals. As well as answering a litany of veg-based questions, he spilled about his favorite veg dish at a non-vegetarian restaurant and let us take photos of the inside of his fridge, which had to have been a little bizarre, I'm sure. He was a good sport about it all—we figured it wasn't terribly far-fetched to crown him the seitan king of Chicago.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

One bite: Phoenix spicy tofu stir-fry

Posted By on 11.25.11 at 08:00 AM

Phoenix spicy tofu stir fry
People have been asking all week about my colleague Kevin Warwick's sweeping look at the city's verdant vegetarian scene, as if I stood by while the food section was commandeered by joyless, flatulent, plant-eating cultists. At least there was room for haggis.

Truth is, I'm onboard with way more of the content expressed therein than I'm not (well, I don't get down with vegan homophobes but that's a different story).

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

On flexitarianism, a Thanksgiving first, and various levels of vegetable-based obsession

Posted By on 11.24.11 at 08:00 AM

Sixteen sweet dumpling squash
  • Sixteen sweet dumpling squash
I’ve been told I’m addicted to squash, but that’s not entirely true. It’s more complicated than that. The context under which the squash accusation was leveled was highly circumstantial; in the five days prior to today, I was forced to visit a half-dozen suppliers—Green City Market, Stanley’s Fruits & Vegetables, Logan Square Farmers Market, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and the Dill Pickle Food Co-op—in an attempt to procure 18 very specifically sized and shaped sweet dumpling squash. I’m still two short.

My obsessive behavior stems not so much from a love of squash, though I am quite fond of it—both its multi-hued variations (acorn, butternut, spaghetti, calabaza) and its diverse uses (pureed into soups, simply roasted with sea salt, and, for the most momentous of occasions, a three-squash lasagna with fried sage and caramelized chestnuts).

For my most recent bout of obsession, a pureed soup is to blame. Specifically, this soup, the first course of today’s dinner. Here’s the intoxicating description that got me hooked: “The whimsical presentation of this dish gives maximum dramatic effect.” I am a big fan of whimsy and drama. And pureed soup. Obsession was inevitable.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Seriously, hold the honey: Should vegans stick to their guns?

Posted By on 11.23.11 at 08:00 AM

Honey photo from Shutterstock
In the all-things-veg guide that hit boxes and stands last Thursday, I surveyed 17 vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters about the health benefits of an all-veg diet, as well as favorite recipes, biggest vices, and local resources. It was a broad sweep of participants and questions, as to allow each answer to head in different directions. I generally steered clear of precise ethical questions, because, let's be honest, those answers can get pretty heavy, and I wasn't in it to sway readers one way or another—it was more about providing a collaborative guide, as told by those who understand the landscape best (you know, like the headline specified).

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Centered Chef: another veggie-friendly resource

Posted By on 11.22.11 at 03:03 PM

  • Centered Chef
Ryan Hutmacher was in sales management when he had what he calls "a quarter-life crisis": "I was making lots of money for other people, but I wasn't happy in corporate life." So at 24 he quit and enrolled in Kendall College's culinary program. After that he spent some time in France, where he came to appreciate that food could be both satisfying and healthy. "I weighed 50 pounds more at the time than I do know," says Hutmacher, who has since gone in to compete in triathlons, a marathon, and an Iron Man competition. He worked as a caterer and personal chef for a time, then in 2008 he started Centered Chef, a West Loop culinary studio and cooking school with the motto "Educate, entertain, and inspire wellness." There's a waiting list for tonight's class, Back to the Basics 101: Vegetables, but upcoming classes include Lighter Side of Pizza and Gluten-Free Baking. Centered Chef also offers combined yoga and cooking classes—for example, beginning yoga followed by knife skills. Hutmacher says the sessions usually run about $100 and are "an intensive but casual" two and a half hours long.

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"But you can eat turkey!"

Posted By on 11.22.11 at 08:00 AM


One of the questions in Kevin Warwick's vegetarian Q&A is "why did you you go veg?"; an issue he addresses in his intro is why people revert. I may not be a local celebrity, but I can tell my story.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

The case of the media pioneer who didn't shut up and eat his veggies

Posted By on 11.21.11 at 08:00 AM

Now and then someone asks me to name the biggest scandal I ever uncovered. I pause, ostentatiously rack my memory, and always come up with the same story. In June of 1997, I wrote a Hot Type column announcing the new publisher of In These Times, the Chicago-based journal of the Left. Owner James Weinstein gave the job to Paul Obis, who'd founded Vegetarian Times in 1974 and raised it from a newsletter to a magazine with a circulation of 350,000.

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