Delightful, Delicious, Delovely: An Interview with Christine Elise McCarthy
Christine Elise McCarthy makes vegan food anyone can enjoy on her Youtube cooking show, Delicious, Delightful, Delovely and Video Vegan.
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She’s brave, irreverent, funny, tough, sexy, honest, outspoken, and multi-talented. Authentic and genuine. Christine was lovely to interview by email and via Skype. She was my first video interview and I’ll have that posted later, separately.
You’ll probably already know her as Kyle, the girl who killed Chucky, in the horror flick Child’s Play 2. Christine also played Emily Valentine on the popular TV show, Beverly Hills 90210 where she wrote several of the episodes. She’s appeared in the shows China Beach, ER, as well as the Viggo Mortensen movie, Vanishing Point.
Her book, Bathing and the Single Girl, is a funny, honest, risque look at sex, relationships, dating, not dating, age, desirability, and having enough money for fresh produce and healthy bowel movements.
The protagonist is an LA actress but could be any over 40ish woman today enduring, “awkward sex with regrettable partners.” Christine also produced and starred in the trailer for the book, which can be seen below as part of the 100th episode on her DDD channel.
Bathing and the Single Girl is clever. I’m visual … a painter and photographer. That’s what I’m good at … I struggle with words. My brain works in Pictionary, not Scrabble, thank you very much. But I know enough to recognize and enjoy a sharp wit of that sort in others.
I recommend the book and am reading it in snippets as I try to write this post. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but three chapters in and Ruby’s feelings and experiences are heart clenchingly relatable even with my midwestern perspective. If you’re female and over age 35 you’ll enjoy Bathing and the Single Girl. If you’re over 45, you’ll understand it.
But I digress. I wanted to interview Christine about her vegan life, kitchen, and cooking show and here it is …
Delightful Delicious Delovely
I noticed Christine after seeing her cooking show, Delightful Delicious Delovely, which features vegan recipes that are simple, easy to make, and aren’t full of hard to find and difficult to pronounce ingredients. What stood out to me was how her recipes make vegan and plant-based foods accessible to anyone.
Vegan Big Mac Pizza
Take a look at her Vegan Big Mac Pizza episode …
Watching Christine’s cooking show has inspired me to do a regular feature here speaking with other vegans and those of the plant-based persuasion about their kitchens and how they cook, eat, and entertain … because hello, that’s such a pretty kitchen! I love the two doors, subway tile, and mid-century aesthetic.
Christine isn’t just a pretty kitchen, though. She’s an activist with real opinions and she’s trying to make a difference in the world. She IS making a difference in the world.
Here’s Christine’s interview that I’ve interspersed with her recipe videos.
An Interview with Christine Elise McCarthy
Please tell us about YOU and your kitchen in general? Who are you, what do you do, and where in the world do you do it?
My name is Christine Elise. I am an actress, author, blogger & Youtuber. I have been acting for about 30 years and – though I have done tons of stuff – I am mostly known as Emily Valentine, Brandon’s troubled girlfriend on Beverly Hills, 90210 and Kyle, the girl that killed Chucky in Child’s Play 2. I also wrote a comedy novel called Bathing and the Single Girl and I wrote several episodes of 90210. I live in Beachwood Canyon – the area of Hollywood just below the Hollywood sign.
I designed my kitchen myself. I designed one much like it in the home I owned before this one. That kitchen was barely completed before I left that house so – when I bought my current house – I took three rooms & made them into the one big kitchen you see on my channel. I love that Viking stove I have and I am sad it is not featured on my channel – because of the angle I shoot at but it is a tank & really gets a workout.
When and how did you become vegan? What influenced you?
In about 1988 or so, my then boyfriend & I decided to raise chickens for their eggs. Before they got to egg-laying age – they were killed by coyotes. I was devastated & declared then & there that no chicken would ever die for me again & I became pescatarian. I remained that way until a few years ago when I decided it was time to take the full plunge. Fukushima & over-fishing really began to weigh on me & so I cut out seafood. Eggs and most dairy were not a large part of my diet anyway so – being vegan just really meant dealing the cheese situation – but that is getting better every day. Better in that more & more wonderful vegan cheeses are being produced.
How has cooking only with plants changed your kitchen and the way you cook and entertain?
Cooking plant-based hasn’t changed anything really as I was 90% there already for decades. I easily convert most of my vegetarian recipes from my blog to vegan. Almond milk & vegan butter are indistinguishable from their dairy counterparts in recipes & there are loads of egg replacers available so – yeah – it is effortless. My guests have always eaten what I give them without question or complaint. Hosting is not tricky at all. It is being a guest that gets tricky. If I am invited somewhere – I typically bring at least one dish so there will be at least that for me on the table. I live in LA so restaurants are not too difficult and that gets easier every day because restaurants are increasingly mindful of vegan patrons.
How have those around you responded to your being vocally vegan? How have your fans reacted?
I am not what I would call, “vocally vegan.” Vocally vegan has a negative connotation to me that I will get into in a bit. Yes, I have the channel but the channel is really geared toward meat-eaters and is intended as a gentle example of how to eat plant-based. And you have to seek it out – I cannot confront you with it. My goal is conversion – not self-congratulating or preaching to the choir. I am trying to prove to folks that plant-based can be just as easy, hearty, naughty, decadent or healthy as any more mainstream diet. I am not a militant vegan. I have never been militant about not eating meat. I do not think shaming or judging people moves their needle in the right direction. In fact, it creates defensiveness & those people cling to their bacon even more desperately.
The overwhelming reactions that I feel warrant comment from me are from militant vegans (the vocally vegan). Yes – I get a lot of “Why are you calling that chicken if it is not really chicken?” from the more basic & confrontational of the meat-eating world but the attacks I get from vegans are always far more harsh. I posted a VEGAN whole roasted turkey by Vegetarian Plus last year & got blocked from several vegan groups on Facebook – even though everyone acknowledged the product was, in fact, vegan. I have been attacked for calling recipes “chicken” or “pork” rather than “chik’n” or “porq.” Vegans & meat-eaters alike joining ranks to attack me for using the most efficacious terms to describe my recipes. It is infuriating & bewildering. I use the words like beef, chicken & pork because 1) they are the best shorthand to describe the effect I am trying to achieve and/or flavor/texture elements I am trying to manifest and 2) porq and chik’n are tricky terms for search engines. I don’t want to have my show relegated to the few who bother to search for “Korean Porq” and the like.
Also, calling a dish something like, “chewy, seasoned, wheat gluten & broccoli” sounds EXACTLY like the kind of inedible slop non-vegans think vegans eat. It baffles me that the spelling of the recipe title elicits more reaction than the recipe itself. I mean, seriously. If you are taking time out of your life to challenge me about how I spell CHICKEN in a vegan recipe title – you need to get a hobby or volunteer somewhere. Getting on a soapbox & declaring yourself “the world’s best vegan” does nothing to promote the lifestyle. I fear that the most vocal in the vegan community are of this ilk and are not interested in all the good products like Just Egg or the Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat can accomplish. They are only interested in attacking others for what they perceive as failings – whether that be eating vegan products that complied with FDA testing on rats or desiring to eat things that look like their non-vegan counterparts or spelling “chik’n” – CHICKEN.
And the worst crime one can commit – in the minds of these militant vegans – is not being EXACTLY as vegan as they are in EXACTLY the same way. I have seen well-meaning people ask what vegan options there might be for pizza cheese & the responses are along the lines of. “Why do you want to eat cow pus?” My vegan turkey post got a plethora of outraged vegans condemning me for posting a “carcass with stuffing up its anal cavity.” That is all well and good if you want to completely turn off tentative or aspiring vegans and chase them back to the deli counter but that is not my goal. My channel is not a forum for me to tell myself and others how purely & awesomely vegan I am. I am trying to tempt people into trying more and more meatless dishes and to answer your question about fans and their responses – several fans of mine have gone vegan and many more have cut way back on their consumption of animal products.
That is a huge win for me. That is my goal. That is the definition of success for me and my channel because, despite what people think, I have literally not made a penny doing it. My following is too small & the algorithm thingy that Youtube uses to monetize accounts always sets the bar far out of my reach. In the year & a half I have had the channel and after 150 posts or so – if Youtube paid me what they owe me – it would still be under $100. And I cannot even get that because they keep moving the goal post. Which is fine because I did not start the channel for money. But getting attacked by vegans for not being vegan enough (a title of one of my episodes) was not something I anticipated. And, frankly, it sucks but still she persisted! 🙂
What motivated you to start your website and Youtube channel, Delightful Delicious Delovely & Video Vegan?
I have always been a fan of cooking & have always been a photographer. Before the blog, I would photograph food I made (like pretty much everyone does now) and I would post the dishes on Facebook. Inevitably, people would ask what the dishes were & how they were made. So – I woke up that July 5, 2012 and – on a whim – decided to start the blog. After several years of that (and about 800 posts) – I decided it felt stagnant. It felt like sending messages out in a bottle & never hearing back. So – again on a whim – I began the channel. I shot the first episode with my phone, no mic, no lights & no editing. All one take. I just needed to get it done & out there before I thought better of it. By episode 12 or 13 – I got the technical aspects sussed out & the audio improved immensely – and I taught myself to edit on Premiere Pro.
What are some of your favorite recipes?
Hmmm – that is hard. I am terrible at that sort of question. As an actress, I am often asked to list favorite actors or films & I always draw blanks. I can easily list favorite authors (Charles Bukowski, John Fante, James Ellroy, Harry Crews, Dostoevsky) and musicians (Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Amy Winehouse) – but favorite film or recipe? I kind of panic. LOL.
I could live on pizza – but I think the easiest & most successful recipes on my channel are the Asian & Indian ones. Though, I have a few mac & cheese recipes on there that are pretty awesome. The smoked eggplant & the smoked dal are special because of the smoking process – which you can easily recreate at home – and they are so healthy – I really like those, too.
What was your worst cooking failure? And greatest success?
Tiramisu. I tried several times to make non-vegan tiramisu years ago but it always came out as a loose custard soup. Very sad. A secret favorite of mine is my Chinese BBQ Ribs made with Beyond Meat chicken strips. Reminds me of my childhood & those trashy, Americanized Chinese restaurants that serve Poo-Poo Platters. Very satisfying. The Tree of Life Cabbage Tower is also a real gem and a wowser in the presentation department.
Favorite kitchen gadget? Technique? Best tip?
All three questions – one answer: the pizza steel I have in my oven on the shelf below my otherwise useless pizza brick. Pizza bricks are the lamest thing ever. For about $40 on Amazon – you can purchase a baking steel. You put in in the oven & then several inches above it on another shelf – you put a pizza brick. Heat both while the oven heats so that they are all to the full temperature. The pizza dough sears the minute it hits that steel (getting it on there can be tricky but it is doable) and the brick above it creates a pizza oven effect. Melts even tricky vegan cheese & the crust is crispy perfection.
Cookbooks you love?
I never use cookbooks, anymore. I used to fetishize them & I own about 200+ but I never refer to them now. I ADORE Thug Kitchen, though. I am a notorious and unapologetic curser & I am SO JEALOUS that I am not Thug Kitchen myself. They are hilarious & edgy & vegan. Perfection. Thug Kitchen are/is my idol. But – the demand for content on my channel does not allow me the luxury of just busting out a cookbook & making someone else’s recipe – and – Pinterest & Google are so easy to go to for inspiration.
Your go-to prepared vegan foods?
Beyond Meat. Chicken strips, especially, but also the sausage. I use them in recipes all the time. I am not a consumer of prepared meals. I find the calorie and sodium counts too high & I have never been a fan of frozen anything so – I avoid almost all processed meals. I reviewed a few on my channel but I find the bulk of what I have tried to be underwhelming in the extreme.
And of course … Where do you get your protein?
I do not fetishize protein. I do not buy into what I call, “the protein myth.” I gave up meat in the eighties & made no effort to replace it with any other protein source. I have always been an avid gym goer and, at 54, I spin 5-6 times a week in a heated class. Muscle has never been difficult for me to build or maintain. That said, sometimes I crave things like peanut butter or chickpeas and I know that is my body asking for protein but I have never, ever made any effort whatsoever to target protein in my diet. In fact, I did a cleanse one time that required a serving of protein at every dinner and I was eating fish at the time. While on that cleanse – I found fish protein to be far too intense & even puked it back up once (swordfish – UGH). The only protein I could tolerate during that cleanse was beans. But, mainly, I craved sugar. That is BY FAR my greatest addiction and not is the form most assume – desserts. I am a big wine drinker & that is the greatest source of sugar in my diet. So – I miss wine when I can’t have it but I do not miss protein.
Want more? Follow Christine at …
One of the causes that’s near and dear to dog fosterer Christine is the LA-based dog rescue, Roadogs and Rescue. Run by Nikki Carvey, the nonprofit specializes in Bulldogs. They do great work and have an adorable Instagram page.