Leinana Two Moons is the author of the blog Vegan Good Things. Her writing and photography have appeared in LAIKA and VegNews magazines. A longtime vegan, she is dedicated to creating recipes that are satisfying enough to please anyone, vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or hardcore carnivore alike. She is active in the NYC vegan community and lives in Long Island City, NY with her husband and two children, who are all vegan. Baconish is her first cookbook.
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody! We are back and how are you doing today? It’s May, it’s May, the lovely, lovely month of May. Ah and I’m waiting here in New York for some warm weather to hit but right now it’s still hanging pretty cool, but I know I should enjoy this weather because soon it’s going to be hot and humid, right? And we’ll be complaining about that. Okay, so, we’re going to have some fun now because we’re going to be talking about delicious food that people love to eat and all of the ramifications around it and why I’m so excited about the 21st century because it’s all about acknowledging embracing the foods people love and figuring out how to make them with plant ingredients because many of the foods people love come from animals and many of us are concerned about the treatment of animals and a long time ago I got into this scene because I didn’t think we should be killing any sentient beings and I stop eating animals and then learned about how eating animals is bad for our health and bad for the environment and the 20th century now seems to be all about coming up with foods, traditional foods that people love to eat and removing the animal from it and replacing it with plant. Now some of that is done with some serious processing and manipulation using artificial means artificial synthetic ingredients along with the plant ingredients to get a certain texture and then other times it’s just with simple natural ingredients that we can get a similar feeling, flavor, mouth feel to replace foods that we love and we’ve talked about the plant milks and the plant based cheeses and the meat analogs. We talked about vegan mayonnaise and as I was mentioning before the egg products that we’re learning how to replace so we don’t have to use the egg. Well how about bacon? And that’s what we’re going to be talking about now with Leinana Two Moons who has a new cookbook out called Baconish. She is the author of the blog Vegan Good Things and her writing and photography have appeared in LAIKA and VegNews magazines. She’s a long time vegan and is dedicated to creating recipes that are satisfying enough to please anyone vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or hardcore carnivore alike and she’s active in the New York City vegan community, lives in Long Island city with her husband and two children who are all vegan. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Leinana.
Leinana Two Moons: Hi, great to be here. Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: So, before we get into your wonderful cookbook and your wonderful recipes, let’s talk a little bit about you which is, I read a little bit about you in your introduction. I always like to know what to know what everybody’s story is so what was your motivation behind becoming vegan?
Leinana Two Moons: Ah, for going vegan in the first place, well, I actually married a vegan man. He had been vegan for a very, very long time. You know when we got married he had already been vegan for probably 20 years. At that point and you know when we got married I still ate dairy and I ate fish and seafood so I wasn’t eating all kinds of meat, but I definitely was not vegan at that point and you know the great thing about him was that he was never preachy or pushy about it. He was just a great example of what a vegan could be. Super healthy has plenty of energy you know looks much younger than his years and I’m the only one who cooks in the house hold so you know I would only cook vegan at home just to make things easier but you know when we would go out I would still you know have cheese or fish or some things once in a while and really just sort of slowly without really meaning to I started eating more and more vegan and I started noticing that the fewer animal products I ate the better I felt and you know health issues that I’ve had really as long as I can remember my whole life long started to disappear and it was really clearly linked to the change in my diet and so that started happening and then you know as I read more and more and learned more and more about being vegan and about you not cutting out those last few animal products that I was still you know eating at the time you know I started to come to it on my own and I really felt like it was my decision in the end that I came to the decision on my own and really the last step was one night we watched a movie Earthlings, I don’t know if you’ve seen it.
Caryn Hartglass: Sure.
Leinana Two Moons: It’s a pretty intense, powerful film and after I watched Earthlings that was it. I said, you know, not only am I not eating anymore animal products but that’s when I also, I stopped buying you know I stopped wearing leather, I stopped buying, you know, any animal products they’ve been in my clothing and accessories and it was from that point that I really declared myself vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: I appreciate you telling us this story and what I love about it is it’s not a unique story it’s something that I think resonates with all humans that when we are in a safe place and we’re shown what life can be like and when we discover eating plant foods and eliminating animal foods when we just feel like we never felt before we feel better all the problems go away it’s an incredible discovery it’s a discovery that is available for everyone.
Leinana Two Moons: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: And the best, and I love your husband for this because the best way to share this message is to share it with someone you love and especially someone you’re in a relationship with. That’s the best way to create new vegans other than bearing them yourself.
Leinana Two Moons: Well, we’ve made two more vegans as well, so [laughter]
Caryn Hartglass: So, thank you and thank him for that. Now this thing that’s going on with bacon and I mean bacon from pigs it’s, I don’t understand it, it’s crazy but we see a lot of it going on with social media these people that are just obsessed with bacon and professing their obsession with bacon and they don’t seem to be affected at all by the cruelty connected to it. How do you feel about that?
Leinana Two Moons: Yeah, I mean, people are really into bacon and it’s weird to me because, you know, I remember eating bacon sometimes growing up, I mean, we would have bacon once in a while but it wasn’t a thing like it’s a thing now where people are so into bacon, you know, and this whole sort of cultural mania around bacon and I understand it tastes good, I mean, there are actual reasons why, you know, animal based bacon tastes good it has to do with the combinations like all the flavor molecules and how they combine and I’m not versed on all the scientific reasons, but it does taste good it has all of the money savory flavors that hit all the right spots on your taste runs so I get it tastes good, but you know when you think about all the other you know things that surround animal base bacon the cruelty how terrible it is for your health how the World Health Organization has declared that it is undeniably linked to more than one type of cancer you know and the environmental destruction in just seems like as you know just because something tastes good is it really worth all of that is it really worth all of the other things that go with it? And to me obviously the answer is no.
Caryn Hartglass: No, especially when as you’ve demonstrated in this very lovely cookbook, how we can, how we can get I think what’s most appealing about bacon is the sweet, salty, smoky fatty whatever it is umami flavors make it so appealing and we can do that with so many different foods and I think make, here’s what I want, and your book is the beginning of it, not only Baconish but the word bacon should change, should evolve and not mean from pigs
Leinana Two Moons: Absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it should mean foods that have these flavors that salt, sweet, smoky and those should all be the new bacon.
Leinana Two Moons: Absolutely, I’m so with you on that because I mean even people who eat you know pig based bacon it’s not you know and their craving bacon it’s not that they just relish the fact of having a dead pig on their plate, you know, it’s all those flavors that you just described it’s the smoky, the salty, the savory, the crispy, the crunchy, you know, all of those flavors, those combinations, that’s what it bacon is that’s what comes to mind when you hear the word bacon and so I wanted to really show people that you can capture those flavors you can still have all of those delicious bacony flavors but you can do those, you can make those with plant based ingredients and it’s so much better for you and so when you say the word bacon that’s what I want to come to mind I want it to mean you know all of those flavors the smoky, and the savory and the sweet and salty but with all of these new possibilities that we have, you know all these new ways of making bacon with vegetable based ingredients.
Caryn Hartglass: And it’s yummy.
Leinana Two Moons: [Laughter] It is.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, we have to make a disclaimer here. Okay? This is not the healthiest eating.
Leinana Two Moons: [Laughter]. I mentioned in the beginning it’s sort of like you know I have two kids who watch Sesame Street sometimes and Cookie Monster says like cookies are sometimes food. So, you know even though vegan bacon is far healthier than an animal based bacon, I’m not claiming that this is health food per say, so a sometimes food. I don’t expect you to eat the entire batch of bacon at one sitting.
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughter]. Even though you want to and you probably will.
Leinana Two Moons: [Laughter]. At least without drinking lots of water with it, but you know it is totally cholesterol free because it’s vegan, you know, I would say, lower in fat. There’s still a sodium issue but, you know, you just have to, everything in moderation.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. There probably, I think in a lot of your recipes there’s a lot of good nutrition especially from the tempeh and then the tofu for those people who aren’t gluten intolerant seitan is a great source of protein. There’s a lot of goodness, but you know, it’s a funny thing in this food world when we’re promoting something there are, I was talking about this earlier, when people make comments to things that you put out there are many people that get angry so quickly and have so many negative things to say about something and we have to be careful all the time. “Oh, you know, you’re putting out this vegan recipe, but it has this and it has that and it’s not really healthy.”
Leinana Two Moons: I would like to just remind people it’s a cookbook about bacon. [Laughter]. So, yes, it is vegan bacon and it’s better for you but you’re still picking up a cookbook about bacon which means that you’re probably not opposed to a little bit of indulgence, right. [Laughter]. So,
Caryn Hartglass: No, I think this is great and, I just always like to make these disclaimers.
Leinana Two Moons: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: For those that need to hear them, but there are some wonderful, wonderful recipes in here.
Leinana Two Moons: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: And to satisfy all kinds of cravings. So, for those that are curious let’s talk about how many ways you can make bacon without the animal.
Leinana Two Moons: Well, I think it’s ten, eleven different ways of making the actual bacons and the bases of those are seitan and tofu and tempeh, coconut, eggplant a couple different mushroom bacons, carrots and even roasted chickpeas and, oh, I have a recipe for the baconish bits, little bacon bits, that are great to sprinkle on everything and I even have a few bonus recipes that are not bacon, but are pig friendly like a seitan ham, a pineapple glazed seitan ham, a spicy chorizo, and a couple other goodies.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes and I have to include these things because it’s my show, I can say whatever I want, but, that’s what I love about this show. [Laughter]. Is, I have this spiritual thing, I don’t know how else to explain it, but many, many years ago I’ve been vegan for 28 years and vegetarian longer and I was in a hotel at a, one of these basic buffet hotel breakfasts, nothing amazing. There were handful of chafing dishes out covered and I remember wondering what was in the chafing dishes. Usually there are eggs. Potatoes in another and in another one there’s typically bacon. Without opening them, I pass by them and I could hear the screams of pigs going to slaughter and it’s a very powerful memory that I have carried with me. It’s something that I always have to kind of cork or stop because it brings up tremendous emotion on what’s going on in the cruelty in the world, but that’s what I hear those things when I smell bacon. So let’s please eliminate the animal from the bacon and rejoice from all of the wonderful bacons that we can make and you’re doing that here. We make a, we like to make a lot of tempeh bacon here at home, but I have to confess that I have not made coconut bacon which, I mean, how many thousands of the people have been raving to about your coconut bacon?
Leinana Two Moons: It’s [laughter], the coconut bacon. You have to make it. It’s the one recipe, you know, in my book; it’s dearest to my heart. I love the coconut bacon so much and it really, it was really the recipe that kind of started the whole idea for this book in the first place. So, and it’s you know the coconut bacon is so it’s such a perfect bacon because it absorbs the marinade so well that you know the marinade’s like tamari or soy sauce if you want and a little bit of maple syrup and some liquid smoke and it there just there’s so much flavor packed into those little flakes and then the really genius part of the coconut is that coconut has that natural fattiness to it.
Caryn Hartglass: Natural sweet fattiness.
Leinana Two Moons: Totally, totally it’s so perfect and it crisps up so well in the oven so it’s like crispy and kind of fatty, chewy at the same time with all those good flavors in it. It’s just the best. Just make the coconut bacon, make yourself a simple BLT just some good bread, tomato, lettuce and some, you know, vegenaise or just mayo whatever you prefer and it’s the best BLT ever.
Caryn Hartglass: So, I also have not made any kind mushroom bacon and you have a trumpet mushroom bacon and a shiitake mushroom. I’m thinking that the mushroom bacon is probably another really good one because of the natural texture that it comes with that chew. It could make a really great bacon.
Leinana Two Moons: Yes, exactly, the texture is fantastic and I love the mushroom bacons also. They’re perfect for people who are just, you know, beginning or, you know, just making their first vegan bacon recipes because, you know, they’re so easy to make this so easy to work with and because mushrooms are packed full of the umami flavors already. They take very temporary little to transform them into good little baconish morsels. You know, just a little bit.
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughter]. Morsels. Yeah.
Leinana Two Moons: You don’t have to add a whole lot to them so that they’re really great really easy and super delicious, too.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Earlier in the program, I was singing my praise of chickpeas to have off the New York Times article that was talking about aquafaba.
Leinana Two Moons: Right, yes, I saw that.
Caryn Hartglass: And I think your cookbook is the first one that I thumbed through that mentions aquafaba and uses it so yeah for you!
Leinana Two Moons: Oh, yes. I think, I mean it’s the first cookbook that I personally know of that have really features a lot of aquafaba recipes and then and as you probably know there’s a whole book, a whole cookbook for aquafaba recipes coming out this fall that’s going to be really, really amazing, but yes, I use it in a lot of my recipes. It’s on my egg replacer of choice and all of the baked goods and I even use it in the ice cream recipes.
Caryn Hartglass: I saw that. Fascinating.
Leinana Two Moons: It’s a really miraculous ingredient.
Caryn Hartglass: It is and now for those of you who have a short term memory, I was talking about it in the first part of the program, aquafaba is the water that comes out of the can when you get a can of chickpeas or if you cook it yourself it’s that thick water that is associated with the cooked chickpeas and it can be a whipped into a miraculous frenzy like egg whites.
Leinana Two Moons: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m just thinking that if there was any kind of planned purpose for planet earth and all life on earth, I think the chickpeas are really here to do an incredible amount of things that I think that we are just beginning to scratch the surface of. So I was talking earlier about the aquafaba and also talking about the chickpea flour and you have your omelets recipes in here, too.
Leinana Two Moons: Yes. Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Aren’t chickpeas the most amazing thing?
Leinana Two Moons: They are. They’re so versatile. They can be used in so many different ways. I mean, chickpea flour I know is used a lot in Indian cooking actually and it’s really nice, it has a sort of a natural almost eggy kind of flavor to it and it thickens well and it’s really, it’s really a neat ingredient that I’d like to start using more, but yes, I use it in my omelets recipe actually.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, yeah, we’re using it more and more and I guess I have to start. I’ve got to take the aquafaba plunge. [Laughter].
Leinana Two Moons: Me, too, it’s so easy and use the aquafaba and then make chickpea bacon with the chickpeas.
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughter]. No waste.
Leinana Two Moons: No waste.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. I’m wondering though, okay, now I’m just kind of being spontaneous here. People talk about rinsing beans when you cook beans because the water itself can have some of those proteins that give us gas. Has anybody talked about gas from aquafaba? [Laughter].
Leinana Two Moons: [Laughter]. I do not know honestly I mean I’ve used aquafaba in a lot of different ways like I told you even in ice creams and…
Caryn Hartglass: You haven’t had a problem?
Leinana Two Moons: … making meringues. I haven’t noticed any difference any extra activity. But you know the Facebook page if there has been any discussion about that and aquafaba it will certainly be on their Facebook page.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. I haven’t seen it. I just was just thinking about that right now and I shared it with everyone. Yes, okay, so I’m just doing a quick last thumb through here what pops up that I want to mention everything looks really lovely Elvis cupcakes for example. [Laughter].
Leinana Two Moons: This makes a few appearances in the book his peanut butter, banana and bacon combo.
Caryn Hartglass: And do you have a special affinity for Elvis?
Leinana Two Moons: I mean honestly not so much for Elvis himself I mean I like Elvis but it’s really more that I love, I also love peanut butter, bacon and bananas together. [Laughter]. I mean, peanut, you know, I don’t know about you, but I grew up eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, I eat them all the time.
Leinana Two Moons: When you add that little salty, crispy element with the bacon, you know any kind of vegan bacon like coconut bacon especially it’s just so perfect together.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, let’s briefly talk about having to vegan children now they’re not teenagers yet and we have to check back with you later. [Laughter]. But, how are they with the food that you give them?
Leinana Two Moons: You know they are, my son is four, my daughter is two. They are both in the super picky phases right now. You know, the thing about vegan kids says that they are just as picky and as vegetable averse as other kids. They don’t magically eat more vegetables than other kids. It can be challenging, but, you know, I think in probably the same way that all parents are challenged with picky preschoolers. They love, you know, their favorite is mac n’ cheese, of course. They love my mac n’ cheese, but they love it even more when I get that Amy’s frozen mac n’ cheese. [Laughter].
Caryn Hartglass: Oh wow! What is it about packaged food that kids love?
Leinana Two Moons: I don’t know. It’s Ben’s favorite thing, but you know they have, you know, my son especially is really, really difficult right now that the vegetables, so, we rely a lot on smoothies like green smoothies. He helps, you know, fortunately he’ll drink smoothies, so we’ll put, plenty of spinach or greens into that and he’ll drink it, he just, he acts like I’m trying to poison him if I put it on his plate. We eat a lot of tofu, a lot of rice, and pasta and I try to sneak as many vegetables in, you know, as I can. They love fruit, snacking on fruit.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, kids love fruit.
Leinana Two Moons: Yeah, that kind of thing. It’s not without its challenges for sure, but they’re super healthy and happy and thriving and I’ve never doubted that you know being vegan and raising them vegan is the right decision.
Caryn Hartglass: I love to hear that. Now you live in Long Island city which isn’t far from me in Forest Hills
Leinana Two Moons: I do. Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And I was talking earlier about Queens and how it’s really an incredible place for all kinds of ethnic cuisine.
Leinana Two Moons: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t know if you’ve been to the one in my neighborhood Greens Zenphony which is Rego Park.
Leinana Two Moons: Not yet, no. We
Caryn Hartglass: It’s like a favorite.
Leinana Two Moons: Yeah, I’ve got to write that down so I remember to go. We just moved, I mean we only moved from Brooklyn it wasn’t that far, but we just moved to Long Island City in December so I really have to check out all the Queens vegan spots and all that
Caryn Hartglass: Astoria’s got a few. Does Long Island city have anything vegan?
Leinana Two Moons: No. It really does not. There are a couple of places where you can kind of get vegan options, but it’s not great for vegan restaurants I have to say. We were very spoiled in Brooklyn.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you’ll have to open one.
Leinana Two Moons: [Laughter]. A couple of people have mentioned that to me. Somebody needs to open one over here for sure like can’t we get the you know the Blossom or the Terry people over here? [Laughter].
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. I think it’s time.
Leinana Two Moons: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely, well, I want to thank you so much for joining me and for writing Baconish.
Leinana Two Moons: Thank you so much.
Caryn Hartglass: This is really a fun, great book.
Leinana Two Moons: Thank you so much for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Thank you for joining me and take care.
Leinana Two Moons: Bye bye.
Caryn Hartglass: Bye bye. We have just two minutes left and I wanted to take a moment. If you’ve been to Responsibleeatingandliving.com, you may have noticed on the homepage that they’re suppose saying goodbye to Broccoli Rob. Broccoli rob was Robert Poe. A lovely man. A great musician. I interviewed him on this program three years ago and he passed away on Thursday and he unfortunately had a very aggressive stomach cancer and he tried really, really hard to beat it and he wasn’t successful unfortunately and we are all very sad to see you go. I invite you to read my brief post and listen to the interview that I had with him a few years ago. Keep his voice alive. He has a website Robertpoemusic.com and you can hear some of his wonderful songs and his very rich lovely, lovely baritone voice. Before we go I want to play the song that he played in the progressive radio network studio about eating greens and it’s called Around for You. I’m going to sign off wishing you a very delicious week and listen to Robert Poe’s Around for You. [Music Guitar]. “I’m eating my greens and no more candy to me cause you’re sweet enough it’s true. I’m getting strong. I want to live with you long. I wanna be around for you. You are my reason for this good eating and working out everyday. They choose concoctions to rid my toxins. Baby I’ve changed my ways. I’m eatin my greens and getting hard and lean. Something everybody should do. I wanna be strong. Yes, I wanna live real long. I wanna be around for you. I wanna be around for you. Yes, I wanna be around for you.”
Transcribed by Nanette Gadyi 6/28/2016