Chesnut breakfast cake incl. chesnut cream recipe.

a slice of this cake, jar of chesnuts, vanilla powder.
a slice of it, jar of chesnuts, vanilla powder.

Vegan, glutenfree and sugarfree, with chesnuts not chesnut flour, my own baked recipe – post now edited with baking time(!) This cake has a strong chesnut flavour, a hint of almond (perhaps because it was not that finely ground), the vanilla was undetectable and occasionally there’d be a burst of cocoa. I must make it again next year to see if the buckwheat comes through, I’m so used to it. Chesnut flour I used before didn’t have a chesnut taste even on its own, mixed it would taste of the other things. The aroma was so novel and yummy, and I was starving so I broke the cake attempting to cut it (before it had cooled at all), and ate half for brunch! That’s all that was left before I knew it, shot with my cameraphone – I made it without maple, agave or date syrup, with too little rice syrup (which I’m convinced increases baking time when I use more). Low in sugars thus without a natural shine that loaves or cakes have. The recipe below is adjusted for a regular sugar free sweet taste (other syrups don’t seem to affect baking time), a sprinkle of icing sugar would make it “regular” sweet I imagine and why not use Star Wars snowflakes for a nice touch. Almond meal could be a dusting option for sugar-free folks.

Chesnut cream consistency, the blob thing on top stayed like this for ever.
Chesnut cream consistency, the blob with horns stayed like this for ever on top of the swirl of cream.

The chesnut cream on its own can be eaten as dessert (or breakfast or whatever, not filling enough for my brekkie). If liquid sweetener is added or bananas replaced with dates, chilling would thicken it perhaps or whip in ground almonds or nut/seed butter of choice. Avo would work but isn’t sweet. I used 3 bananas from my garden but they’re an unusual size and variety (see below) and rather flavourless. I’d suggest using 2 regular bananas, only 1 if too ripe and 1 tsp egg replacer or 1 tbsp ground flax in 2 TBs water or 1 tsp bicarb and 1 tsp vinegar. Replacing 1 banana or all of it with dates would work, bear in mind that banana is both an egg replacer and can act as a fat substitute. If you’re making chestnut cream itself with added liquid sweetener, golden flax or egg replacer would be great.

Chesnut cake
(prep time 30 min, baking time 30 min)
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 cup buckwheat ‘oats’
1/3-1/2 cup ground nuts, half that of almond is enough to give a subtle flavour – I used about 20 each almonds and hazelnuts. cashew is a nice option for a neutral taste or brazil but there’s selenium in buckwheat too.
1 pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp egg replacer (optional, also see options above).

1 tsp vanilla (I use Bourbon powder)
1 Tbsp canola or coconut oil
1-2 Tbsp rice syrup
2 Tbsp agave or date syrup (optional)
1 Tbsp raw cocoa nibs, pulsed in the grinder ’til it’s like coarse sand (or chopped walnuts, regular size)

For chesnut purée (crème de marrons):
2 bananas, chopped
230g chesnuts raw, dehusked or whatever.
200ml water

In a pot, pour water over chesnuts, boil then simmer for 10 min, add bananas and simmer another 5 min.

Blend then leave to cool, all blenders blend warm or hot, right? I don’t have a dishwasher and use a stainless steel grinding jug, so it was still very warm in the middle when I poured it on the dry ingredients and this may actually improve the texture – my 2nd attempt was with cold chesnut cream and it was drier, I’m no baking expert.

Preheat oven at 175’C/350’F, mix the dry ingredients and make a well in the middle. Pour in the chesnut purée, make a sortofa well, pour in the oil and syrups, start mixing from the centre outwards. Or blend liquid ingredients together and pour in cake dish.

Bake for 30 min or ’til a skewer inserted comes out clean.

The very cool thing about vegan buckwheat cakes is it doesn’t matter how you throw everything together or how badly you mix, it’ll be a perfect cake even if you found lumps of unmixed flour at the bottom when pouring the dough. Just poke it into the dough and stir! 😀 I do it everytime and often eat the whole cake myself, every bite was perfect, trust me!

It’s not even winter in this hemisphere but most of the shops are French and selling x-massy things. Most people celebrate x-mas in December. It’s a sad time of the year when one thinks of all the animals abused and slaughtered for some chocolates, some dessert or some festive dish that isn’t good for health, and could be veganised anyway.

The size of orange bananas, about 2/3s a regular banana (green one).
The size of orange bananas, about 2/3s a regular banana (green one for comparison).

Soy – the facts

From a doctor – Holly Wilson MD

From a medical librarian

Finally The Truth About Soy mentions the Weston A. Price Foundation too, behind the myths of soy being harmful in spite of Harvard publications and other research.

Sur le soja, citant plusieurs études (in French, citing 27 research articles including the below-mentioned)

The last research I read this year is

PCRM: New Study Shows Soy Products Protect Women from Breast Cancer Recurrence

A new report in the July edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that women previously diagnosed with breast cancer have less risk of cancer recurrence if they consume soy products. The report combined the results of prior studies, including a total of 9,514 women. Those who consumed the most soy products were 25 percent less likely to have their cancer return, compared with those who tended to avoid soy products.

Some women avoid soy products after a cancer diagnosis. The study and several previous studies show that soy products are actually protective.

Nechuta SJ, Caan BJ, Chen WY, et al. Soy food intake after diagnosis of breast cancer and survival: an in-depth analysis of combined evidence from cohort studies of US and Chinese women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;96:123-132.

Sexism and domestic violence glorification

My reponse article published on Women24, March 2012 (with their editing). Note that PETA is also racist and ableist but I focused on their sexism here, however their cultural insensitivity is not accidental.

Advertisers usually have certain ethical guidelines, but not for PeTA, as they keep creating controversial ads that get shared virally online. They sometimes use the V-word but their only relationship with vegan organisations is they give them a bad image.

Jessica from the PeTA advert discussed, synopsis in end quote.

T.O.F.U puts it all too mildly. I’d say if PeTA is the perverted sociopath that gives my town a bad name, then Jodi Allemeier (whose article this responds to) is a strange neighbour who enjoys their sick jokes. Being vegan does not automatically cure one from other prejudices based on arbitrary differences; similarly being a feminist often doesn’t challenge other prejudices, and doesn’t erase all the sexist ones.

The advert (synopsis below) starts with Jessica limping on a cold day after, one would guess, being attacked – she looks bruised and seems to have lost her clothes and some of her jacket fastenings (Anyone with a painful neck would close their jacket around it for warmth, she’s holding it with her hand). Domestic violence is hinted at, in jest, and the 32-second clip ends with the implication that her head went through the wall during sex and the intended lack of clarity should raise concerns. A simple web search indicates that anti-violence advocates, feminists, and vegans alike, as well as vegan magazines and non-vegan mainstream harshly criticised PeTA again.

Audience reactions that I observed ranged from disbelief that this is in fact a real advert from an organisation, to disgust mixed with surprise/shock/anger, and profound disgust. At the very least, disapproval was characteristic of every reaction when I questioned a small group of ‘sex-positives’, tantric adepts, BDSM practitioners who had in common the lack of heteronormative prejudice and knowing what PeTA is, although not being familiar with their campaigns. Lili Radloff’s personal twitter reaction, while I’m not condoning it, was not atypical – people who equate PeTA with veganism may well now hate vegans. Prominent voices for animal rights seemed not only worried about this reaction to vegans or their cause as a result of the controversy, but were concerned about the anti-women sentiment itself.

The ad does not refer to consensual BDSM. No one argued that it makes a modern reference to Gorean cults (the good slave-girlfriend with a severely-injured neck goes to buy food; did any advert supporter argue that she is wearing is all that she owns?) but most, and I assumed well over 70%, see the link with abusive relationships, and it certainly makes reference to violence or the criminally abusive parts of some BDSM scenes (whatever those are called). To correct Jodi: sex sells but violence-with-“sex” sells particularly well – ask the mainstream porn industry of which these characters are a by-product. Sex is not something that gets done to a woman (or women – if we consider other BWVAKTBOOM videos where all the women are serious casualties and the men are not injured in any way), which Jodi should know for quoting Les Mitchell on oppression and discourse.

There is Women24’s flavour of mainstream ‘feminism’, Radloff’s falls within the 66% if not the 60% of this poll, and within the 34% lies Jodi’s version – Jessica may well love that Popeye pounds her head into a wall when he ‘knocks the bottom out of her’ (credit to Austin J. Austin for the Popeye phallic-muscle analogy). While it is, Jodi argues, a valid personal view, I doubt it should be aired without stressing on consent and psychological clearances, not when it helps perpetuate myths that easily affect not only her, but other women. Not only women but everyone is affected by the harmful myths we let circulate, men are too.

Furthermore, I asked for reactions of tantric adepts with no historical background in tantra or a related culture, although some were acquainted with Buddhism. In other words, they had a different bias than I, yet they echoed my view that it promotes an anti-tantric sentiment. A woman of colour and a white American male felt it was apt to call it racist for appropriating the word. What is suggested is the very anti-thesis of tantra which in fact, does not require penetrative sex. The mis-use in “tantric pornstar” distorts the traditional meaning to an extent that it erases and replaces it with another. Austin found the use of ‘tantric’ “disrespectful of a culture, ignorant, and focused on one superficial aspect of mainstream media i.e. that tantra is merely something that makes [men able to engage in penetrative sexual activity with women for long periods of time, which is a sexist construct of male sexual prowess]”.

Like rape, this ad isn’t about sex. Jodi’s comment “Why is consentual BDSM offensive? Some are offended by gay sex, should all ads showing happy gay couples also be banned?” went unchallenged and I’ll end by saying that I find her analogy offensive, I don’t have to be gay to find that politics of substitution insults my intelligence and hurts people. I support feminism as I support struggles against sexism or any prejudice. There is a pressing need for not only feminism but social and environmental justice, for all. We – men, women and intersex – are a part of this ‘all’.

Synopsis of the ad: “The thirty-two second commercial begins with a head shot of a thin, light-skinned woman with arm-length wavy brown hair and bangs. She is wearing a blue and white plastic neck brace, holding a dark green coat together with one hand. She is almost limping along a sidewalk, towards the camera, with a blank look on her face. A voiceover goes through the commercial**. After four seconds, she winces. After a side-facing close-up shot, the camera pans out to watch Jessica (the character) walking to the left of the frame. She is also wearing black and white sneakers and does not appear to be wearing pants. She carries a plastic bag in her left hand, containing vegetables. She climbs a set of outdoor stairs slowly, her face and movement express pain as she holds onto the railing with her right hand. A lower shot from behind follows, where her pink-and-orange-polka-dotted underpants are the focus of the frame, lit up by the sun which comes in through her legs. For less than a second, there is a flashback to a shot of Jessica with both hands up against a red interior (bedroom) wall, looking over her left shoulder – facial expression suggesting intense penetrative sex with someone behind her. The frame becomes Jessica indoors, having returned from the store (and the hospital?). The walls are blue, yellow and red; the place is furnished and has a sari curtain, picture frames, a chess set, a lamp, etc.

Jessica removes the coat to reveal a light-pink patterned bra. The frame changes to her view: a guy is shown applying white spackle/caulk paste to a (skull-sized) hole in the red wall, that was ostensibly made during the sex act and that caused Jessica’s neck injury. He remarks that she is back. The frame shifts back to Jessica standing in the bedroom doorway, leaning against the right side. Her underwear is inexplicably pulled in between her buttocks on the left side, revealing her most of left buttock. Celery and red peppers are visible in the bag, and there is a yellow elastic bundling the celery (it is printed, and might indicate that it is organic). The light-skinned boyfriend is thin, with short dark hair, and is wearing striped grey and black boxer briefs and eyeglasses. He asks if she is feeling better and she tosses the bag to him abruptly. He catches it and looks down into it. The commercial ends with Jessica looking past the camera at the boyfriend, with a slight smirk on her face.”

**”This is Jessica,” the narrator, Kevin Nealon, says. “She suffers from ‘BWVAKTBOOM,’ ‘Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me,’ a painful condition that occurs when boyfriends go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star. For Jessica, it was too late. Go to bwvaktboom.com and learn how to go vegan safely”

I adapted the version Austin kindly wrote for access purpose, original version here

Bees – under a different lens

Bee portraits on flickr

In his first book, Rattling the Cage, [lawyer Steven] Wise completely dismissed the idea that insects might reason. I told him I knew of much evidence that honeybees and other insects reason. He requested references. The evidence I supplied included the following: When a honeybee colony requires a new hive site, honeybee scouts search for a cavity of suitable location, dryness, and size. Each scout evaluates potential sites and reports back, dancing about the site that she most recommends. A honeybee scout may advertise one site over a period of days, but she repeatedly inspects her choice. She also examines sites proposed by others. If a sister’s find proves more desirable than her own, the honeybee stops advocating her original choice and starts dancing in favor of the superior site. In other words, she’s capable of changing her mind and her “vote.” Eventually colony members reach a consensus.

More evidence: Researchers at Princeton University showed some captive honeybees food placed on a boat in the middle of a lake. When the honeybees were released to return to their nearby hive, they communicated the food’s location to their sisters. No bees set out to the food. Then the researchers moved the food to the lake’s far shore. Again they showed the location to captive honeybees. Again the bees flew back to their hive and told their sisters where to find the food. Guess what? This time many other bees promptly set out, flying over the lake to the food. Honeybees have a mental map of their environment. A water location, in the middle of a lake, didn’t make sense. But the new location–on land–was plausible. Honeybees assess the information they receive and believe or disbelieve depending on its plausibility. To his “amazement and horror,” Wise found such evidence compelling. He now credits honeybees with the ability to reason. […]

The ability to reason has survival value for insects just as it does for humans. […]” — Joan Dunayer (Animal Equality)

Fake interpreter humour: detraction or indicator?

[…] in a large hotel. A deaf woman asked directions to the toilets and the concierge looked at her, me and her hearing dog and made the inexplicable decision to lean down and explain the directions to the dog! — Interpreter Annie.

This is funny although the concierge’s behaviour was rooted in ableism. S/he gave the dog directions, not the person asking it but Annie was there to counter the ableism. The laugh is at the expense of the ableist concierge, arguably about his ‘smartness’ but in a that’s-what-ableism-can-do-to-your-brain way perhaps?

I’ve seen one amusing meme (below) among the memes and ‘jokes’ on faketerpreter at Madiba’s memorial, Thamsanqa Dyantyi, the rest is plain offensive (two-fold if anyone buys his schizophrenia claims) and the persistence of the media (French, British, US, SA’s Mail&Guardian – the only coverage I’m able to follow regularly) to stick to a one-sided perspective regarding schizophrenia, criminal history and potential security risk seems like a another bad ‘joke’.

Thamsanqa Dyantyi faketerpreting Barrack Obama’s speech at Madiba’s memorial, in this animated gif he then pulls a red balloon and makes a balloon dog.

Dyantyi’s signing struck me as odd but the scale of Madiba’s memorial (which I only saw briefly on BBC) was such that I didn’t think about it, but I stopped paying attention to something I’d be attentive to (without any understanding but with the interest pertaining to a language one plans to learn) – I have that privilege as a hearie who furthermore understands South African English accents. I don’t speak any sign language. Since I before could talk and until her death, I learned my late aunt’s sign language – she’d never met another deaf person, nor accessed media with sign language.

Dyantyi should’ve been interviewed in sign language, he should be. I don’t buy the schizophrenia story. Suppose the reason is economic and there’s still a fictitious hiring company involved, this was in complete and utter disrespect of deaf people, he would have at least recognised this if he really had learned SASL then he wouldn’t have signed gibberish. It’s also harmful to people with schizophrenia (one friendly schizophrenic I met worked at the Robben Island Museum, as in with tourists, famous or not). Imagine all politicians ‘taking care’ of corruption charges henceforth by feigning schizophrenia. His criminal history only indicates that he may be a skilled scammer and liar, I would bet with ties with the ANC.

Sindiso Sira Joya commented on the M&G facebook page: “Complained to ANC

The man also did sign interpretation at an event last year that was attended by President Jacob Zuma.

At that appearance, a deaf person in the audience videotaped the event and gave it to the [Deaf] federation, which analysed the video, prepared a report about it and a submitted a formal complaint to the ANC, Druchen said.

In their complaint, the federation suggested that the man should take the five years of training needed to become a qualified sign language interpreter in South Africa. But the ANC never responded, Druchen said.

Druchen said a fresh complaint will be filed to the ANC about the interpreter he called a “fake” with a demand for an urgent meeting.

The ANC professed no knowledge of the man.

“I don’t know this guy. He doesn’t work for the ANC. It was a government event. Ask them,” spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said.”

So there’d been at least one complaint. I’ve seen more than one post, perhaps of the same. This event is a year later and planning at ANC level has surely been going on since Madiba was in hospital this year. Anyway reporting and humour around this has been both an indicator of ableism and the apathy around it, and a detraction from speaking about deaf people and access.

An account of my experience of sign language ‘jokes’ with someone who claims to be on the other side of the political sphere: South African Vegan Society* director, also at the forefront of anarchism in SA, once randomly told me he’s fluent in ASL. As we were new friends, I asked why ASL not SASL, and so on. Anyway he stressed on the fact that he knew ASL (the friend party to our conversation knew him and nodded), even made some signs. Following that, while helping them organise an intersectional conference, I asked who we can ask or hire as SASL interpreter (ASL ‘speaker’ was taking financial decisions, they also had friends coming from another city, might they know a terp?). I was then told that the claim of his knowledge of ASL had been a joke – right, then surely he knew SASL? He didn’t know any sign language! He was amused, also at me not getting the ‘joke’. How could it have been a joke?!! It was offensive, and I started thinking of excuses I could make to a deaf friend who was planning to take a bus from another city to the conference, to not reveal their insensitivity.

What sort of privileged existences do people have to think anything is permitted when it comes to disabled people (people disabled by them and their precious privileged world)?! The ableism did not stop there, I wasn’t aware I was being the gimp (and the brown representing black and all colours) token so I was trying to not limit myself to assigned tasks but to ensure I think of maximum possible access. The venue was next to a beachfront parking lot, the event on a Saturday the whole day, so it was important to demarcate disabled parking spots somehow as it would also be used as busy beach parking. All my suggestions regarding access were dismissed without consideration, I was kicked off the organising team in the week before the event (many may have seen the edit on one event page) with access thrown out the window, and with clear threats in writing so I would remember not to mention anything publicly. This had been voluntary work but aside from that, what did it cost me, reputation-wise? I lost friends and an acquaintance who took part in the conference. Why? I’m yet to find out, nearly 2 years later and perhaps there’s more to come. What did it cost our disabled community? Lack of inclusivity that day (videos of the talks were not made public to my knowledge) and at least this: a related event, the 2012 Capetown anarchist book-fair reeked of ableism, while claiming to seek to create discussion of ableism!

The CT Anarchist book-fair was in a suburb with a privileged and student population, where parking is scarce, far from the largest anarchist collective locally, in Khayelitsha township. There were talks scheduled all day as well as documentaries, in English and there were no details whatsoever about access or subtitles. The reply to my inquiry from a novice organiser, an ex-classmate, gave no information either. Only that she didn’t think of many things and had even forgotten to buy the toilet paper for the event ’til the last minute. I’m sure they wouldn’t have been short of arsewipes – I don’t see the link so perhaps that’s what they expected me to say or think? Didn’t they think of anything when they decided to publish the event? Were they only interested in flaunting the term ‘ableism’ or perhaps talking the talk in the eyes of an unsuspecting international audience? I doubt they had an SASL interpreter and basic access, but they organised a nude march. How innovative (sarcasm). As a multiply disabled person, I couldn’t go so I can only speculate based on their advertisements and my experience. I don’t know if there were disabled people in attendance.

In the case of public and free music events by Soundz of the South that I have been to in Khayelitsha, where numbers far exceeded the conference attendance, and perhaps exceeded that of the preceeding anarchist book-fair – there were enough print-outs distributed so we could share a sheet and read lyrics to some songs. That in spite of limited means. In contrast, the conference had projector facilities but did not ask their speakers, not even directors or previous directors to provide text on screen for the talks.

I see oppressive humour as a sheer lack of humour, compensated by oppression or discrimination. Many have been trained to respond with laughing, I believe, and not only in SA. Not only the incident is embarrassing (what is embarrassing is taking deaf viewers for granted right?) but so is the detraction.

* I’ll take this opportunity to tell all who’ve seen me holding SAVS’s GAIA market stall in the past, some of whom had never received SAVS products promised with an arguably high membership fee: I trusted them because of one director who seemed to be doing a good job, and she was the driving force seemingly. They were friends of friends (not only of our allies the animals), endorsed by the Vegan Society and in the SA vegan scene, no one had said anything except that working relationships with the director I refer to in this post (‘leader’ henceforth for sake of abbreviation), don’t last. I was scammed myself after spending time, unemployed savings and spoons helping them in Capetown. I was convinced to pay a year’s membership but not getting any of that money back after the 1st month, after the leader ostracised me, blocked me from the facebook page for no reason and made threats urging me not to say anything. I was also repeatedly told by a friend that they’re broke then a year ago, that they were disbanding or handing it over. I’m used to seeing organisations that were donation-based and did lots, like BWCSA… not that I agree with all their views but bottomline: they do shit, help animals, motivate people.

Veganism on mainstream TV?

How the media has changed since 1976. They might show Banksy’s meat truck at the end of the news briefly but I can’t imagine the BBC doing a similar unbiased programme these days. They could feature althletes like Britain’s own Fiona Oakes (North Pole Marathon female winner this year, among other victories – if per chance you saw her on the news or sports channel, I bet no one mentioned the V word), poet Benjamin Zephaniah, maybe half of Black Sabbath (or at least Geezer Butler, long-term vegan) or Carcass. Anyway the Vegan Society UK made a half hour DVD, also available freely for online viewing, featuring some famous vegans. I’m trying to think of public figures who are actually vegan as opposed to ex-vegan Chelsea Clinton or GMO moghul Bill Gates. Been thinking a lot about the four estates and the way they control public perception after a skype talk I gave. I had to throw in some well-known names although I don’t like the approach.

Anyway here’s the Banksy vid if you missed it, against factory farming and little to do with veganism perhaps.

Hamba Kahle, Tata Mandela.

Memory is the fabric of identity. At the heart of every oppressive tool… is a determination to control, distort, weaken, even erase people’s memories.

My favourite quote by Madiba, one which occasionally resonates loudly for me.

Nelson Mandela artwork on wall of clinic where he was treated.
Nelson Mandela artwork on wall of clinic where he was treated.

Last night (SA time) when Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela passed away, it brought a profound realisation of things that might not have been. It had been anticipated for some time but it felt jarring, and it left me sad. That said people, “icon” or not, remain human beings with flaws. Learning from ours and others’ failures is vital.

South Africa has been my home for over a decade, the legacy of this man’s, Chris Hani’s, Steve Biko’s and others’ struggles has shaped who I am. It has since before I set foot there and was probably instrumental to my decision to go there.

Social and other issues in South Africa have their counterparts in other countries of the world, some issues certainly seem worse there and the governments, present and past, and of course apartheid are at fault, but apathetic people are at fault too, as well as foreign bodies. One should remember that South Africa has not only defeated apartheid (but the effects) without a civil war but has one of the most progressive constitutions.

Madiba was on the US terrorist watchlist 'til 2008.
Madiba was on the US terrorist watchlist ’til 2008.

I feel critical of corporate media for various reasons but still appreciate their honouring Madiba’s memory. We’ve all heard criticisms of Madiba from radicals, academics, people who knew him and media, perhaps less so or in a less reproachful way today. All these make me think of today, is that to reach for ideals is not in the hands of any one person but it relies on collective effort. Although we have increasing issues and responsibilities, we had more opportunities to learn from than Madiba’s generation.

We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference – Madiba

Indeed it is. Hamba kahle, tat’omkhulu.