Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

What is your deal?

I'm a curious, self-taught amateur cook. I became vegetarian at fourteen and vegan shortly thereafter, and when I grew tired of PB&J and Tofu Pups I began learning to fend for myself in the kitchen. I love spicy food, bold flavors, and trying new fruits and vegetables. I'm mildly health conscious, but I don't get hung up on calories. I focus on whole grains, beans, and plants of all colors. I try to avoid high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, and chemical food coloring. Though I do eat them occasionally, I'm not a big fan of faux meats and fake cheese. Real foods are tasty enough! In September 2009, I found out that I have Celiac Disease, so all the recipes posted after this point are gluten-free.

My writing and recipes have been featured in Maine Food & Lifestyle Magazine, the Bangor Daily News, Bangor Metro Magazine, and Tufts Magazine.

Occasionally, I also share my clumsy knitting, though when things get busy I have less to say about that.

Is everything on your site vegan?

All of the recipes are vegan. I cook without meat, eggs, dairy, or honey. I've been known to recommend tasty locally-made products, like artisan bread and granola bars, and some of these contain honey. I don't wear leather, but I do knit with wool from sheep, goats, and rabbits raised humanely on small-scale, organic Maine farms. As a consumer, I strive to make choices that will positively impact my health and the well-being of the people, plants, and animals in my community. I do the best I can, and I'm always learning.

Why do you harp on so about your local businesses? I don't live in Maine.

Yes, but don't you wish you did? Mainers vigorously support local businesses, probably because we're skeptical of the outside world. I love buying vegetables from the farmer who grew them, bread direct from the baker, yarn from the person who fed the sheep and spun the wool. I get to see the work that went into my purchases, and my dollars stay in Maine instead of going to China or Bentonville, Arkansas.

I write about the foods and fibers that inspire me. If you live or vacation nearby, please check them out. If you live somewhere else, you can either find your own local producers to love, or make all your friends jealous and move to Maine.

What does the name of your blog mean, and how do you say it?

MITTen MAHK-en (with a little bit of that German getting-ready-to-spit noise around the /k/).

It means "mitten making" auf Duetsch. I was knitting a lot of those when I started this site. I'm into slippers now, but there's no alliteration in that.

What are your favorite foods?

I could live quite happily on strawberries, ice cream, broccoli, and spicy noodles.

If I send you free products will you review them on your site?

That depends. I am interested in reviewing products that are:

1. vegan,
2. gluten-free, and
3. in keeping with the tone of this blog.

If I can't see myself using a product in real life, I won't review it here. I don't like posting negative reviews, so if I don't have something nice to say about your product I probably won't say anything at all.

That said, holla at me, Tofu Xpress!


  1. Hi Mary, You appear in the next OOB Alumni Newsletter in a note about your doings in Bangor. We'd love to send you a copy, but since you moved, we no longer have your mailing address. I know you don't it to appear here, but could you e-mail me that info? seaking76@gwi.net We love to profile successful grads like you. Thanks.
    Carol King '58
    Corresponding Secretary
    OOB Alumni Association

  2. Hi! I stumbled across this blog somewhere, sometime, and have been following it loosely ever since... I could find no other way to contact you on the blog, so this will have to be the medium.

    So anyway, just wanted to say "great blog!" from a fellow Bangorean. I am not a vegan, not even a vegetarian, though most of my meals are vegetarian and many are vegan. My wife is a vegetarian and basically wwe strive to eat simple, local, and low on the food chain.

    I guess the thing that most catalyzed me to email was to point out a very vegetarian, possible vegan-friendly place here in town... Chopsticks over on Center Street, justc a few blocks from downtown.

    The owner/chef, 'Christine' (I'm not sure thats her reral name), is a vegetarian and is constantly extolling the virtues of a vegetarian diet. She encourages folks to order without the menu, i.e. "what's good today?" and encourages people to try vegetarian if they are unsure of what to order. I recently encountered a large group exiting as I was picking up our meal, each of whom has just been served a tailor-made vegetarian meal, many apparently for the first time. They were pretty excited about what they had just eaten.

    Best of all, when my wife and I mentioned we don't go out as much in the summer because of our large garden, she encouraged us to bring in our own veggies which she would cook up for us! Don't tell the health dept...

    The food is solidly good, nothing to really write home about, but is tasty enough, honest, and cheap. The ambiance is decent - lots better than a lot of chinese carry-out places, but not a place you'd go for a nice night out. Its not too bad. The guy who works the counter is really overly-friendly but fun if you're in the right mood.

    Being chinese, I don't believe there is any dairy on the menu. You'd have to be careful about eggs, though Christine is so accommodating I don't believe she would have any trouble accommodating a vegan order if you were clear about what you did and didn't want.

    Last night we called in an order "two vegetarian entrees, whatever you suggest tonight". We ended up with an order of sauteed green beans with tofu in a black-bean-ish sauce that was very pretty and very good. The other order was stirfried watercress and sliced turnip (or something similar, I'm not sure) and tofu, in a very light spicy sauce. Not as pretty but very intereting on the palate. Both were delicious!

    The only bummer is that even the vegetarian rolls contain egg (I believe, going by taste, and the breading may contain milk/eggs, but I didn't check), and there is no vegetarian fried rice. White rice would be the only veggie-friendly option at Chopsticks, I guess.

    Also, I'm not sure Christine is there every night of the week, though we've seen her there each of the 20 or so times we've been in. You would want to be sure she's there, and talk to her, not the friendly guy, just to be safe.

    Anyway, if you hadn't been there I wanted to let you know about the place, and thought it might be nice to review on your blog to get the word around. Its one of our favorite options in town, not just for cheap, yummy food, but also for the service.

  3. Hi, Sean! I have been to Chopsticks a couple of times. The food was terrific, and Christine is great about creating dishes without egg. I haven't been there recently, because I also tend to eat at home more during the summer (so much great produce available at the farmers' market). Thanks for the reminder to go to Chopsticks again soon. I'd love to take pictures and do a review.

  4. hello! i wanted to let you know that green tomatoes are just unripe tomatoes... not a special southern variety.

  5. Erica,

    Good to know! Thanks. I've never had them!

  6. Hi, Mary -- Just wanted to pass on that Montes on Columbia St. in Bangor is struggling (sales down about 30%)since the city blocked off the street to build the new parking garage. I hope anyone who appreciates their good food will make the extra effort to support them so they can make it through this tough time. -- Jim

  7. howdy, got your info from Christine at Chopstix. looking forward to cooking off your site.


    dave, orono

  8. I DO wish I lived in Maine (still). Wistful sigh here.

  9. I vegan and live in Maine, too! Just wanted to tell you that I love reading your blog. :)

  10. Hi Mary,

    Have you heard of Tofutti brands? It is a vegan-friendly food products company that is extremely established in the kosher market.

    I thought I'd send you some information with recipes. Could I get your email?


  11. Hi Mary,

    Tried to find your email on your blog, but I was unsuccessful. I inadvertently deleted Stuff to Eat, so I set up a new blog: www.stufftoeat.blogspot.com

    Just wanted to let you know. Hope all is well with the knitting, cooking and baby growing.



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