Monday, December 15, 2014


All soups, here.

My two favorites, which I make all the time, are Madame Benoît's Pea Soup and my Persian Red Lentil Soup.

Paul Cezanne, Still Life with Soup Tureen, 1884

Monday, December 8, 2014

Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

Here's a recipe that seems to have been around for a while—it's all over Pinterest and the big recipe sites—but I'd never heard of it till my friend Soyung alerted me to it today. It's brilliantly simple, vegan, and perfect for the season.

Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

1 box of spice cake mix (most are vegan)
1 15-oz can pumpkin

Mix together. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

If you want to make it as a cake with frosting, many of the commercial ones are vegan, or make a simple white icing like this one.

Maria Primachenko, Autumn is Riding on a Horseback, 1984

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Update: Chickpea and Butternut Squash Stew

(Main Thanksgiving post here.)

Just a quick pre-Thanksgiving update: Last night I stumbled on, cooked and ate this really special (like, serve-to-guests-for-the-holidays) butternut squash dish from Martha Stewart's site, not usually the first place I look for vegan recipes. Full of protein and fall flavors, and smells wonderful.

It's a little more involved than some of the dishes I post. For example, I had to make my own harissa. But it's worth it. (Harissa is a North African spice mix, and if you've never had it you should definitely try it. There's a link right in the recipe). I did simplify things by using pre-chopped squash (you can get it fresh or frozen) and canned chickpeas.

If you're looking for a last-minute vegan or vegetarian main dish, check it out:

Chickpea and Butternut Squash Stew from Martha Stewart 

Helen Frankenthaler, Thanksgiving Day, 1973

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sweet Pumpkin with Walnuts, and Thanksgiving

If you're looking for vegan Thanksgiving recipes, you only have to google those words to find a million and one great ideas. There are more out there every year.

A couple of good places to start this week are The Gentle's Chef's Holiday Recipes (a $2 download but worth it if you want some really well thought out plant-based versions of meat and dairy dishes) and the chooseveg Thanksgiving page (a collaboration of Mercy for Animals and Isa Chandra Moskowitz who founded the Post Punk Kitchen); or do a search for "Thanksgiving" on the PPK site for lots of wonderful dishes. The Thanksgiving list on oh she glows is very nice. And here's my post from last week about my friend Marina's Tofurkey cooking video.

My contribution for 2014 is this amazing simple, rich, sweet recipe from the Republic of Georgia, slightly adapted from Darra Goldstein's wonderful The Georgian Feast:

Sweet Pumpkin with Walnuts

1 large (29-oz) can pumpkin
1 c walnuts
1/3 c brown sugar

Put the walnuts in a blender or food processor and whir until finely ground. Add the sugar and pumpkin and mix well. Put into an oven-proof pan or casserole and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or so, until heated through.

Elzbieta Gaudasinska, cover for The Sun has Fallen into the Sack, 1975, via 50watts

Monday, November 17, 2014


Here's a great Thanksgiving Tofurkey cooking video by my friend Marina, with cute cat cameo, and  recipe.

I have to take some credit for suggesting that apple idea, although of course I'm not the first person to think of adding apples to a roast. In fact, I'm pretty sure I first saw it done as a teenager in a scene in Liquid Sky.

How to Cook a Tofurky with Apples

1 Tofurky Roast
3-4 Sweet Apples, quartered
Baste = 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place apples, roast (baste roast) - into casserole dish and cover
Cook in oven for:
if Frozen = 2 hours 20 minutes
if Thawed = 1 hour 20 minutes
Take out of oven and turn over and re-baste
Take off lid and place in oven for another 20 minutes
Slice thin and serve or slice and pan fry (to make it extra crispy)

May all beings be happy. Maria Primachenko, Seagulls in the Boat, 1965

Monday, November 10, 2014

Nine Recipes from Mercy for Animals

I'm just going to link to this today:

9 Creamy and Delicious Pasta Recipes

These all look amazing. The whole ChooseVeg site is full of great recipes, and I love Mercy for Animals, the organization it's attached to.

Martiros Saryan, At the Well, 1908

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pumpkin Hummus


Pumpkin Hummus

15 oz canned pumpkin
2 T tahini
1 clove chopped garlic
1 T lemon juice
1 t olive oil
1 t cumin
3/4 t salt
(handful chopped parsley—optional)

Put everything in a blender and blend.

Paul Klee, Bluebird Pumpkin, 1939

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pasta with Fried Lemons, Chickpeas and Almonds

Here's a vegan takeoff on this recent recipe from The New York Times, with additional inspiration from the classic Italian dish pasta alla ceci, this Greek dish, a pasta recipe I linked to a while back, and the wonderful site 101cookbooks, which first turned me on to the idea of putting toasted almonds on top of pasta. I dedicate this recipe to my husband, who loves things that are very, very lemony.

Pasta with Fried Lemons, Chickpeas and Almonds

4 lemons
1 lb pasta
4 T olive oil
1 lb frozen chopped spinach, or bag of fresh spinach
large handful of slivered almonds (1/2 c or so)
2 T Earth Balance margarine (optional) 
3/4 t red pepper flakes, or to taste
8 cloves garlic (believe it or not, this is also OPTIONAL)
1 t salt
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t — 1 t thyme, to taste
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Put a big pot of salted water on to boil. Zest two lemons. Juice one of them. Set aside the zest and juice.

Cut the ends off the other two lemons and quarter them lengthwise. Take out the seeds. Thinly slice the quarters. Blanch for 2 or 3 minutes in the boiling water, remove with a slotted spoon, and pat dry with a dishtowel or paper towels.

Put the pasta in the water and boil until just al dente. It will be getting cooked a bit more after you take it out of the water, so don't overboil it now. Drain it, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Put 1 T oil in a big skillet and fry the lemon slices with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, until caramelized—that is, browned at the edges—3 to 5 minutes. Take them out of the pan and set aside.

Steam fresh spinach for a couple of minutes, or if it's frozen, cook it in the microwave.

Toast a handful of slivered almonds in a dry skillet, stirring a few times, until fragrant and slightly browned.

Heat the remaining oil, and margarine if using, in the big skillet you used for the lemon slices. Add red pepper flakes, caramelized lemons, and garlic if using. Cook on medium low until garlic is very slightly browned. Add the pasta water, the pasta, the lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper to taste, thyme, and chickpeas. Mix in the spinach and toasted almonds. Toss until it's all warmed through. Taste and see if you want to add any more lemon, olive oil, salt or pepper.

Enjoy, and have a happy Halloween! 

Edward Gorey, cover for Nineteenth Century German Tales, 1959, via 50watts

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dosas and Tomato Chutney

I cannot make pancakes. I can't. I think it might have something to do with not knowing how hot the pan should be, or not keeping the heat consistent enough. I'm not sure. I just know I can't make them.

I don't claim to be spectacularly good at cooking anything. The whole point of this blog is recipes that are so easy they're impossible even for me to mess up. And I can mess up anything that resembles a pancake, so maybe shouldn't be posting any of those.

Yet I also feel sure there must be a lot of people who can make this delicious, simple, ancient, protein-packed dish. And I enjoyed eating even the wrecks that I produced. So I'm going to post this.

You might ask why I'm using my own recipe instead of linking to one by someone who actually makes these successfully. Mine is basically the same, but simplified. The batter tastes great. I've followed enough pancake and pancake-like recipes written by experts to the letter, and fouled them up anyway, that I'm pretty sure it's not my batter's fault that my dosas don't come out right. It's something about me. Since I won't be there in your kitchen, jinxing everything, I think you'll be okay. Feel free to leave negative comments if that's not the case. Or follow this very nice recipe, from which mine is only slightly adapted.

So: Dosas are are sort of South Indian crepe made from rice and lentils that have been fermented and ground up. So, protein. The fermenting takes a while, but at its easiest it just means leaving them for some hours in a bowl with a plate over the top, so it's not a big deal. Then you cook the dosas in a hot pan, and that only takes a few minutes. You can have them with any kind of chutney; I'm including a recipe for an easy one made of tomatoes and onions. You could also just buy chutney at the grocery store.


1 cup raw brown rice
1 cup raw lentils, any kind
pinch of turmeric
1 or 2 t chopped fresh ginger
salt and pepper to taste

Put the rice and lentils into a bowl with six cups of water, put a plate on top, and leave sitting out for four hours or, even better, overnight.

Strain them over a bowl, reserving the water. Put them in your blender with the turmeric, ginger and salt and pepper. Blend, adding enough water to make a thin batter, like crepe batter. It should be kind of a buttermilk consistency, or even thinner. You can start buttermilky, then experiment with thinning until you get the thickness you like when you cook them. You don't want big chunks in the batter, but it's okay if there's a little graininess; it shouldn't be perfectly smooth.

Heat a pan, slightly oiled, as you would for crepes or pancakes, and pour in dosa batter. Cook a few minutes on each side. They should ideally come out round, very thin, and crispy around the edges, not lumpy, weird, half-cooked and irregular like all of mine.

Fresh Tomato Chutney

Here's a very simple fresh tomato chutney from the BBC that will go nicely with your dosas.

Piet Mondrian, Wood with Beech Trees, c. 1899

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Soy-Free Dishes

People can panic when confronted with the idea of trying to eat vegan and soy free.

(Just like I did when I learned I'd need gluten-free vegan recipes for family dinners.)

But believe it or not, most of the recipes on this blog are soy-free anyway. If you can get past stressing over the idea of going soy-free and vegan at the same time, you'll find there's plenty to eat. And it's not expensive, exotic, or complicated, because nothing on this site is.

Most of the recipes are also packed with protein. You do not need tofu to get protein as a vegan.

Soy-Free Dishes

Butter Bean Burgers 

Butternut Squash Curry 

Cashew and Green Bean Pasta 

Cashew Curry  (without optional tofu)

Cauliflower and Potato Curry

Chana Saag 

Chickpea Flour Scramble 

Chickpea Pasta with Almonds 

Chickpea Spinach Stew with Lentils and Quinoa 


Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips 

Coconut Red Lentil Soup 

Coconut Red Lentils with Spinach and Cashews 


Creamy Ginger Butternut Squash Soup 

Curried Rotini wuth Currants and Red Peppers 

Favorite Bread 

Georgian Bean Salad with Walnuts and Herbs

Georgian Tomato Soup

Green Pea Hummus

Hummus and Sandwich Spreads 

Iranian Rice with Beans and Dill

Israeli Bean Soup (and Palestinian Spinach Pies)

Jamaican Rice and Peas

Kale and White Bean Stew

Laurie's Amazing Bean Salad

Madam Benoît's Pea Soup

Mark Bittman's Nut Burgers


Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew 


Oat Milk 

Palestinian Spinach Pies (and Israeli Bean Soup) 

Pasta with Cauliflower 

Pasta with Fried Capers 

Pasta Topping 

Persian Red Lentil Soup with Tomatoes 

Quinoa with Spiced Lentil Dal 

Red Bean Curry (Rajma) 

Rice and Beans

Senate Bean Soup

Simple Flatbread 

Simple Salsa 

Smokey Saucy Chickpeas with Spinach 

Spiced Red Beans in Coconut Milk 

Spinach and Nut Sauce for Pasta 


Qi Baishi, The Chickens are Happy, 1949

Monday, October 6, 2014

Esther the Wonder Pig

I mentioned Esther the Wonder Pig here once, a long time ago, and she's worth mentioning again. If you don't know her, click on over and meet her!

Here's the link to her facebook page.

She does have a website, but her real presence in on facebook where you can see her (a 500-lb pig) hogging her dads' bed, sleeping with her doggie family members, eating Oreos, sitting and patiently waiting for a treat by the kitchen counter. 

Her dads bought her from someone who told them she was a "mini pig," but it turned out they'd been had—she's a standard pig, exactly like the ones raised on factory farms for bacon. They kept her anyway. There is something very moving about seeing her—the same breed, size, and color as the hundreds of thousands who go to slaughter every day—lying on a big soft couch with a fuzzy blanket thrown over her, eating cookies.

If you want to see the others who are not so lucky—you probably don't, but if you do—the amazing Toronto Pig Save bears witness as they go through the city on their way to slaughter. Volunteers reach through the openings in the transport trucks to feed them lettuce and melon, give them water and photograph their faces when the trucks are stopped. If you ever wondered whether pigs were more or less okay with being transported to slaughter, have a look at their faces in TPS's photographs. It's an extraordinary view of these thinking, feeling beings that the big agriculture concerns do not want you see.

In honor of Esther, today's recipe is Creamy Ginger Butternut Squash Soup from Esther's Kitchen. It's great—sweet, salty and rich with the fall flavors of sweet potato, squash and apple.

Thanks, Esther.

Jamie Wyeth, Baby Jane in Summer, 1978

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thai Curry Soup

An easy Thai curry soup. Hot, rich, salty, sweet and tart. Yum! The cilantro is optional but highly recommended. You can add many different kinds of vegetables—baby carrots, baby corn, snap peas, thinly sliced red onions, red bell pepper . . .

Thai Curry Soup
3 c broth
2 T to 1/2 jar Thai curry paste
(up to 1 T brown sugar, to taste) — optional
2 sliced garlic cloves
1 T very thinly sliced ginger
1 lb Asian style frozen mixed vegetables
1 pkg tofu, cubed
(chopped cilantro, chopped green onion) — optional
salt and pepper
juice of one lime

Heat 1/2 cup of the broth, add 2 T curry paste and stir until it's dissolved. Taste and add more curry paste of you like. Add the rest of the broth, the garlic and the ginger and bring to boil. Add the frozen vegetables and cook 5 minutes or so until done. Add the coconut milk, tofu, and lime juice, and bring back to boil for one minute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with optional green onions or cilantro or both.

Piet Mondrian, Trees by the Gein at Moonrise, 1908

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Garam Masala Tofu Scramble from 101 Cookbooks

It's fennel season! I love this recipe. Simple, fast, and magical. From one of my favorite recipe sites, 101 Cookbooks.

Garam Masala Tofu Scramble 

Josef Albers, Proto Form B, 1938

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Gluten-Free Recipes

When my sister was first diagnosed with gluten intolerance, it seemed like such a big deal to have to find recipes for family gatherings that were vegan and that she could eat. But today I noticed that almost all the recipes on this blog (so all the recipes I normally make) are gluten-free anyway.

Why did it seem so hard at first? I think partly I convinced myself it had to be because it was such a significant change. Going vegan was kind of the same for me a few years ago. I thought it would be difficult, then after a couple of months I realized that it really wasn't a big deal after all.

Here's a list of the gluten-free recipes on this site:

Gluten-Free Recipes

(I've even included the pasta recipes, because it's so easy to find gluten-free pasta now.)

Fruits and Vegetables, Martiros Saryan, 1934

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Best and Fastest Breakfast with Lots of Protein

How did it take me this long to discover chickpea flour?? Mix it with an equal amount of water (and some oil if you like), add salt and pepper, cook a few minutes in a hot skillet, and you have an addictive, healthful, high-protein meal or snack. I especially like it for breakfast because it's so fast and easy.

This basic recipe is known, in slight variations, as socca in the South of France; farinata, cecina or panissa in Italy; karantita in Algeria (made with egg); fainá  in Argentina and Uruguay; pudla (chickpea flour crepes) in northern India; and chickpea flour omelette (or scramble if it gets messy) among vegans of the USA. Seems like everyone else in the entire world, for all of history, knew about it before I did.

Google any of the terms above and you'll find a thousand great recipes. Here's one easy way to make it for breakfast. It has as much protein as two eggs and no cholesterol.

Chickpea Flour Scramble

1/2 c chickpea flour
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c water
couple handfuls of spinach
oil for the pan

(optional: turmeric, chili powder, vegan parmesan . . . anything, really)

Put some oil in a skillet and heat it on medium high. If the spinach is frozen, steam it a couple of minutes. Mix all the other ingredients, and then stir in the spinach. Toss in hot pan. Cook a few minutes, stir, cook a few more minutes, stir a little more, cook another minute. Eat.

Felix Vallotton, The Estérel and the Bay of Cannes, 1925

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Green Pea Hummus

This bright, fresh hummus is perfect for a fall crop of peas, but you can try it anytime with frozen peas and it's delicious. Adapted from this recipe.

Green Pea Hummus

2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
1/2 t cumin
1 clove garlic chopped
1/2 t salt
pinch or two pepper, to taste
1/2 T lemon juice
1 T tahini

Boil the fresh peas 5 min, or cook frozen peas in microwave till just done. Put the cumin in a dry skillet on medium heat for a few minutes, until it becomes fragrant. Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor.

FélixVallotton, 1865 - 1925, Maisons et Roseaux

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Georgian Tomato Soup

Too many ripe tomatoes? Here's what to do with them. An absolutely amazing soup. You've never tasted anything like it. Adapted from The Georgian Feast by Darra Goldstein.

 Tomato Soup with Walnuts and Vermicelli
(Bostneulis Kharcho)

4 T Earth Balance or other margarine, or olive oil
2 med onions finely chopped
2 lg garlic cloves roughly chopped
1/2 t whole coriander seed (using whole rather than ground really makes it good--but if you only have ground, you can use that)
3/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 cup walnuts
1 quart water
1 cup broken-up vermicelli or spaghetti
3 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
1/2 c chopped mixed parsley and cilantro

In soup pot, heat 3 T margarine and saute onions till golden. In food processor, blend garlic, coriander seed, salt and pepper and walnuts until walnuts are ground fine. Add to onions along with water and noodles. Simmer, covered, 20 min.

Meanwhile, separately heat tomatoes on low till softened. Then stir them into soup, simmer 5 more min. Add herbs and remaining 1 T margarine and cook a few minutes longer.

Paul Klee, Full Moon, 1919

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Palestinian Spinach Pies with Israeli Bean Soup

These go well together, maybe with a prayer for peace on the side.

Palestinian Spinach Pies from Food & Wine

Make the dough for the crust first and let it rise while you get the other things ready. Just before you bake the pies, instead of egg wash, brush the tops with Earth Balance (or other margarine) mixed with a little agave or sugar. For the filling, if you don't have sumac, add a little extra lemon juice and some lemon zest, to taste. (The zest makes a big difference.)

Israeli Bean Soup from a contributor to

I used two cans of white beans, instead of dry. If you do that, you don't have to simmer so long--only until the potatoes are done--and you can use four cups of water instead of six. Add some lemon juice and a little of the lemon zest you made for the spinach pies near the end of cooking.

Some interfaith prayers for peace from Project Ploughshares in Canada

Dr Jane Goodall's Prayer for World Peace

Dona Nobis Pacem

Agnes Martin, Untitled #15: Peace, 1996

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas, Part Two

Not the most healthful recipes! Just the things kids are most likely to eat.

Chicken Waffles

It doesn't get any easier, syrupier or kid-friendlier than this.

Gardein plant-based chicken is available in a lot of grocery stores and at Target.

Gardein brand Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n
Waffles (some brands contain dairy; many don't. Van's is good.)
Earth Balance margarine (optional if you can't find it at your store)

Discard the sauce packet from the Gardein chicken. Put a little oil in a skillet and fry chicken pieces until crispy. Make waffles.  Butter them. Top with chicken and syrup. Serve sliced bananas on the side. Let some syrup get on the bananas. Yum.

 Worms and Dirt

An old favorite in our house.

Whole wheat spaghetti
Olive oil or margarine
Go Veggie! brand parmesan topping (they make a vegan and non-vegan version; check label)
     OR homemade pasta topping

Cook spaghetti. Toss with a little oil or margarine. Sprinkle with topping. Serve with a side of whatever fruits or vegetables your kid is willing to eat.

Chicken Lo Mein

Adapted from this "Easy Chicken Lo Mein."

1 T oil
about 1 lb (1 or 2 packages) Gardein brand, or any other plant-based chicken, cut up if necessary
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 T soy sauce
2 t thinly sliced ginger or 1 t powdered
1 pkg "Oriental Flavor" ramen noodles (Some are vegan, some aren't; check label)
     OR 3 oz ramen-style noodles with no flavoring
1 lb frozen mixed vegetables, "Oriental Style" or "Stir Fry" style

Put a little oil in a skillet and fry chicken until crispy; set aside. Add a little more oil if needed, then ginger and garlic. Cook one minute. Add vegetables. Put on lid. Cook until done, stirring now and then.

In a separate pan, cook ramen noodles according to package directions. Drain.

Put 1/4 c hot water in a bowl and add flavor packet, if using, and soy sauce.

Mix chicken and noodles, and pour sauce over.

Takeout Food

Chinese takeout is always a great kid-friendly vegan option. You can get almost any dish made with tofu instead of meat. Vegetarian spring rolls are usually vegan, too.

Indian takeout is another good choice, if you have the sort of kid who's willing to try it. There are lots of vegan dishes at Indian restaurants, loaded with healthy protein from green peas, lentils or chick peas.

Alexandre Benois, The Letter L, 1904

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Vegan Migas

My favorite addictive, protein-packed breakfast. (The non-vegan version is made with scrambled eggs.)

Vegan Migas

1 14-oz pkg extra-firm tofu
3 T canola or olive oil
1 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t salt
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
can of black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
handful tortilla chips
additional salt, and pepper, to taste

Optional toppings:
chopped cilantro 
chopped avocado
siracha or other hot sauce
chopped tomato
chopped scallions

Crumble the tofu into small handfuls, squeezing them out over a colander. Set in colander to drain.

Heat oil in pan. Add cumin and chili powder, sautee for 30 sec. Add salt, onion, green pepper and garlic. Sautee until soft. Add tofu and cook, pressing with the spatula and stirring it now and then, till it's a little bit browned. Add beans (if using) and cook till heated through.

Crumble in tortilla chips. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus any toppings you like.

I don't know the name or date of this painting, so please tell me if you do! It's by Felix Vallotton (1865 - 1925)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cauliflower and Potato Curry

Posting this week from a wonderful teaching gig at Yale, where the food is great, and I've been eating a lot more french fries than I do at home. It's made me think I don't have enough recipes here that include potatoes, so here's a delicious potato curry.

This is mostly from the BBC's Good Food section, slightly adapted.

Cauliflower and Potato Curry

splash of oil (such as canola)
1 onion chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/2 t red pepper flakes 
1/2 t turmeric
1 t cumin
1 t curry powder
2-3 chopped tomatoes, or half a 14-oz can
1 bag frozen cauliflower defrosted, or 1 head cut into florets
2 potatoes
lemon juice

Pierce potatoes several times with fork, put on a plate and microwave for about 4 minutes, until almost done. Split and set aside to cool, then cut into chunks.

Sautee onion in oil with a big pinch of salt until it just starts to brown. Add ginger, garlic and spices to pan and cook just until they become fragrant, a minute or so. Add potatoes, tomatoes and cauliflower and cook over low heat until everything is soft. Salt to taste. Squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle cilantro over.

"Lux et Veritas"

Sunday, June 15, 2014

One-Pot Curried Rotini with Currants and Red Peppers

I love this sweet, rich pasta dish. I it put up on the blog a long time ago, but for some reason I can't find the post--I must have deleted it somehow. So here it is again. The recipe is great as written, but I think it would be really nice to add pine nuts, walnuts or cashews, maybe toasted.

One-Pot Curried Rotini with Currants and Red Peppers

Woods Near Oele, Piet Mondrian, 1908

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Very Simple Flatbread

Here's a recipe I first posted in A Week of Meals for $29.78, slightly revised. There's something nice about knowing that if you have a little flour, water, a pan and heat, you can make bread in just a few minutes.

Try this with chickpea hummus sprinkled with a little cayenne, or any other hummus or spread for a great lunch.

The key to this recipe is rolling the dough very thin and having your pan hot.

Simple Flatbread

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 c water 
1 T oil (optional)
3/4 t salt. 

Mix together, knead until smooth. Make into 12 teeny balls, using floured hands. Flour your surface and your rolling pin (or use a bottle if you don't have a rolling pin). Roll out each ball into a circle, or, if you're like me, any old irregular shape. Make it very thin, like a tortilla or even thinner. 

Put a dry skillet over medium or medium-high heat. When it's hot, cook the dough for a few minutes on each side, until it gets dark spots like a chapati.  

If you have time, here's a slightly more involved recipe for flatbread, using the same ingredients. There's lots about letting the dough sit at various stages and how to divide it precisely and roll it neatly, if you like that kind of thing. (I don't!) 

Jozsef Rippl-Ronai, A Park at Night, 1895

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Georgian Bean Salad with Walnuts and Herbs

A few years ago, I went to St. Petersburg to teach with a program called SLS and discovered the wonderful food of the Republic of Georgia. I'd never had anything like it. It has Russian, Middle Eastern and European influences, and there are lots of traditional vegetarian dishes. Ground walnuts and fresh herbs are in everything, adding richness and bright, springlike flavors.

When I got home, I immediately bought The Georgian Feast by Darra Goldstein. Only a handful of the recipes in it are vegan, but boy, are they amazing. The recipe below is adapted from that book. It's full of protein and makes a great lunch.

Georgian Bean Salad with Walnuts and Herbs

2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 small red onion, chopped
a few sprigs cilantro
a sprig of parsley
1/2 c walnuts
1 clove garlic
1 t salt
hot pepper to taste
1/4 t cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
juice of 1/2 orange (about 1/4 c) plus juice of 1/2 lemon
pomegranate seeds if you can get them (optional)
more cilantro and parsley for garnish (a small handful of each)

Mix the beans with the chopped onion and set aside. Put all of the other ingredients except the pomegranate seeds and herbs for garnish into the blender and blend. Then mix into the beans. Sprinkle liberally with cilantro and parsley, and also pomegranate seeds if you have them. It's best if you let it sit for an hour or two to let the flavors meld. Serve at room temperature.

Here's a lovely, fancier interpretation from The New York Times.

Carpets, Elene Akhvlediani, 1898 - 1975

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Marina's Russian Potato Salad

I can't stop eating this salad when it's around! My friend Marina made it for her vegan Memorial Day barbecue, and I'm eating the leftovers right now.

Marina's Russian Potato Salad

5ish potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cans of green peas, or one 10-oz bag frozen
5 pickles diced
a pack of Tofurkey Smoked Turkey, diced
Vegenaise or homemade mayo like this one from Post Punk Kitchen
Boil diced potatoes until you can put a fork through the pieces with no resistance. If using frozen peas, throw them in with the potatoes for the last three minutes. Drain. Mix together with all the other ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Maria Prymachenko, Sun, Bird, Rye and Wheat, 1980

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fried Capers!

Fried capers are the best. Unfortunately you can't just eat them by the handful, because you'll get a headache from all that salt. (Don't ask how I know.) Here's a pasta recipe I love to put under them:

Pasta with Fried Capers

8 oz pasta
1 4-oz jar large capers
olive oil for frying
1/2 t red pepper flakes
7 large or 10 small cloves garlic, sliced very thin
1/3 c good black olives (like Kalamata), halved
10-oz bag frozen spinach or a bag or bunch of fresh (chopped if leaves are big)
lemon juice

Get the pasta cooking. (When it's done, reserve 1/4 c cooking water.)

Meanwhile, drain the capers very well, reserving the vinegar from the jar. Put about 1/2" oil in a deep skillet, and heat until a caper dropped in starts sizzling right away. Put all the capers in. Be careful because they'll pop and spatter. Let them fry until the buds open and become crisp. Fish them all out with a fork and drain on a paper towel.

Reserve 1/3 cup of the frying oil, let it cool a bit, and use it to cook the garlic and red pepper flakes for a couple of minutes, until the garlic starts to brown. Add the olives, spinach and 1/4 c of water, and 1 or 2 T of the vinegar from the capers, bring to a boil, cover and steam 7 min or so until spinach is cooked, if it started out frozen--or just a couple minutes till it's wilted, if it was fresh. Serve with a little squeeze of lemon juice and the fried capers sprinkled on top.

Maurice Denis, Easter Morning or Easter Mystery, 1891

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

This blog has been up for a while, and I haven't proselytized at all. In fact, I haven't even mentioned why I'm vegan. Not even in the About section.

That's because this is meant to be a resource for people interested in trying inexpensive, fast and simple vegan dishes, and I don't want anyone to feel judged. As people so often do, even by the mere presence of vegans, even if we don't say anything.

(Here's an interesting study from Stanford U. about that phenomenon. The subtitle itself, Resenting Those Who Do the Right Thing, should annoy plenty of people with its implication that they're doing the wrong thing.)

But today is Mother's Day, a holiday which many have pointed out has activist roots.* My own mother is not an activist, but is someone who quietly goes where she sees a need, and does something about it, day after day and year after year: helping a friend move, sending money to family members, babysitting for neighbors, bartering her services as a family therapist for flowers or artwork, visiting someone who can't get around much, lending an ear to someone who needs to talk, and of course always being there for her children and grandchildren.

She's taught me that being there for others is just what you do. Not so you'll get something in return, not because you owe them, not to get into heaven or to prove anything. It doesn't drain your resources or distract you from your own life: it is life. These daily acts of generosity are not exactly activism, but are squares in the same quilt: they're part of making the world a better place, not for any other reason than that we all want the world to be a better place.

I've also learned from her, and from how she talks about people who influenced her, that acts of kindness are seeds that often grow where they're planted, and make more seeds, which also grow. A small good thing you do can have endlessly multiplying repercussions.

I can think of several people who have moved towards veganism partly as a result of things I've said or brought to their attention. To me, that's huge. Even if it were only three people, and even if only two of those influence two or three others, before long, you have change. Of course there are organizers and filmmakers and celebrities who are influencing hundreds and thousands of people, so compared to theirs, my contribution is tiny, but that doesn't mean it doesn't matter.

But I still haven't mentioned why I'm vegan! The truth is, I hardly know how to talk about it. Why wouldn't I be? Why hurt and confine and kill billions of thinking, feeling animals, our cousins, who want to be happy and to live and to raise their little ones, when we don't remotely, at all, have to? Why? Do people think that the very idea that pigs in gestation crates are unhappy is some sort of vegan propaganda--is that why? Do they think that animals don't really have feelings? But they know their dogs and cats do--so how could they think that?

I believe there are two main reasons most people aren't vegan: ignorance and habit. Habits are horribly hard to break. These can include eating and cooking meat, but also habits of shutting off the urge to compassion--telling oneself that the things we do to animals, like taking calves from their mothers at birth, are really okay, and the animals don't mind as much as they seem to with their bellowing and struggling; or if they do, it doesn't, somehow, matter. As for ignorance, most people don't have any idea what goes on in factory farms, or any kind of farms. And many don't want to. I know and love several meat eaters who are happy to admit they have no desire to know about the messy end of meat production.

I have a lot of compassion for people who have trouble changing their habits. My kids are mostly vegan, but they eat some cheese, as I did until a few years ago. I buy that cheese for them. Me! Someone who thinks about this stuff all day! If it's hard for me to break the habit, I can understand how hard it must be for other people.

I have compassion for ignorance too, since I became vegetarian as a child, yet had no idea until I was in my thirties that animals in the egg and dairy industry are killed just like animals raised for meat. The only difference is that the productive ones--the hens and cows, the mothers--are kept alive to suffer for a few years first.

My recipes are meant to help people who want to break out of old eating habits. Today in honor of Mother's Day and the idea of helping make the world a better place, I'd like to help fight some ignorance too, by linking to this Mother's Day piece by Ashley Capps at Free From Harm:

7 Ways Eating Meat, Dairy and Eggs Destroys Motherhood

I give you this information not in a spirit of judgement, but as a fellow fallible human being who has no idea what struggles you face and what seeds of good you daily plant in this world--but I am sure you do have struggles, and I know you do plant seeds. This is my own attempt to plant a seed.

But if you post "Mmm bacon LOL" in the comments section, I hope you burn in hell.

(^This is actually a joke. I don't really want anyone to burn in hell. Vegans just get sick of seeing that all the time.)


*In fact the route from activism to the establishment of our current holiday is a little circuitous: It actually was intended by its founder, Anna Jarvis, to be a sentimental recognition of motherhood and not a day of agitating for justice. Wikipedia has a good overview. Still, her own mother, Ann Jarvis, who she wanted to memorialize, was a pro-peace community organizer. And there's Julia Ward Howe's famous "Mother's Day Proclamation," but that had a different title when she wrote it, and Howe's dream of a world-peace-centered holiday in June was never realized; she doesn't seem to have had anything to do with the creation of the modern Mother's Day.

Jamaican Rice and Peas

Rich, sweet, salty and yummy!

Jamaican Rice and Peas

1 or 2 cans red kidney beans
2 cloves garlic very thinly sliced
1 can coconut milk
1 c rice
2 green onions (you can leave out if you don't have any)
1 tsp dried thyme or a couple of sprigs fresh
1 t salt
black pepper

Measure out coconut milk and add water until you have 2 1/4 c liquid total. (That will be about 3/4 c water). Put that, along with everything else including salt an pepper, into a pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook over low heat about 20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.

A painting for spring :)
Ferdinand Hodler, Spring, 1901

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Laurie's Amazing Bean Salad

Here's an incredibly protein-rich bean salad that I love, from our dear family friend Laurie Lynd. (I'm quoting him--this is the recipe as he sent it to me.)

Laurie’s Bean Salad

One tin each of chick peas, red kidney beans, lentils -- rinse them in a colander
One red pepper chopped
One stalk of celery chopped
One Bermuda onion (or 1/2 an onion, if you prefer) chopped
Parsley chopped - about 1/3 cup once chopped
One field cucumber -- cut the seeds out and then chop finely
Corn -- I use frozen and just put about 1/2 a cup in
For dressing, 2 tbsp (approximately) of olive oil, 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp of sugar (or even better, mint sauce), salt and pepper to taste.

Mix it all together and refrigerate -- seems to last nearly two weeks -- I guess because of the vinegar and such.


Alexander Calder, Across the Orange Moons, 1967

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas, Part One

In addition to recipes, I wanted to collect some kid-friendly dinner ideas here. In my recipes I mostly avoid fake meat, but sometimes you just want to grab some hot dogs and buns so you know your kids will actually eat something.

Serving vegan hot dogs for dinner might not be ideal, but it's a heck of a lot better than feeding them meat hot dogs. Ditto meat chicken nuggets. Even if you're fine with the basic idea of having them eat factory-farmed animal meat, kid staples like these, made with animal parts, can be pretty gross.

In keeping with the rest of this blog, there's nothing at all fancy here! Just simple, super easy ideas for kids' dinners, using things that are available at most grocery stores.

I serve these with a side of whatever fresh fruits or vegetables my kids are willing to eat that day.

Kid Dinner Ideas

Note: There are a lot of fake meats out there. You should try whatever looks good to you, but I've found the ones below to be the most kid-friendly.

Smart Dogs are my kids' favorite, and are available almost everywhere. If I add white-bread buns, they're very happy. Smart Dogs are in the refrigerated section.

Wrap hot dogs in Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough and bake to make pigs-in-blankets without harming any pigs. (Have you met Esther the Wonder Pig?)

Gardein products are starting to appear at lots of stores, even Target. They're in the freezer section. Gardein sliders are great and take two minutes to heat up in the microwave.

Gardein also makes chicken sliders, which my kids find a bit spicy, but some will love them. Especially with some lettuce and tomato and Vegenaise. Vegenaise isn't available at all grocery stores, but the sliders are good without it too.

Gardein chicken nuggets are always a hit. Ditto Trader Joe's vegan chicken nuggets if you're lucky enough to live near a TJ's.

Tofurky (or, as my son calls it, "faux turkey") is available at some regular grocery stores too. It will be next to the Smart Dogs. They make a couple of good kinds of "deli slices"-- we stick with the Hickory Smoked and the Balogna style. Some of the others are kind of weird.

Almost all marinara sauce is vegan, and of course pasta is vegan (unless it's egg noodles). If you want more protein and your store doesn't carry Nate's Classic Meatless Meatballs, serve a side of nuts. My kids will always eat salted pistachios--the closest you can get to junk food, nut-wise.

Cashew and green bean pasta is pretty kid-friendly.

You might even get them to eat spaghetti with homemade spinach and nut sauce.

Or with the French sauce called pistou, which is really just pesto without the cheese. (Everybody likes pesto!) Some people make pistou without pine nuts, but the above recipe includes them. If you like, you could substitute any other kind of nut you have in the house.

Chili with cornbread is always good.

Amy's makes a couple of good vegan frozen burritos, such as the Bean and Rice Non-Dairy and the Black Bean Vegetable.

You can make your own burritos or tacos pretty easily. Here's my post on tacos. That's my kids' current favorite dinner.

More kid-friendly dinner ideas to come!

Apparatus for the Magnetic Treatment of Plants, Paul Klee, 1908

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hummus and Sandwich Spreads

I eat hummus all day, even for breakfast. You can make it out of lots of things--not just chick peas but lentils, white beans, black beans, or split peas. You can add nuts, vegetables, all kinds of spices. Here are some of my favorite variations. Some are pretty far from hummus, so you might just call them sandwich spreads.

Basic Hummus

1 can (or 1.5 cups cooked) chick peas
1 T tahini (leave this out if you don't have it--it will be different, but still good)
1 or 2 T olive oil or other oil
1 t salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend.

If you don't have one of those, a mortar and pestle, or a bowl and a potato masher, or a bowl and a fork, will work. For those methods, mince the garlic before you put it in.

Other Kinds of Hummus

Instead of chickpeas, you can substitute the same amount of cooked lentils, red lentils, any kind of beans, or split peas.

Other Sandwich Spreads:

White Bean Spread

1 can white beans (such as cannellini)
1 T oil
1 t salt
1 clove garlic
1 t sage
juice of 1/2 lemon
handful of parsley

Blend all ingredients.

Lentil Walnut Spread

1.5 c cooked lentils
2 T walnuts
1 T oil
1 t salt
1 clove garlic
1/4 onion (optional)
splash of white wine (optional)
juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Toast the walnuts in a skillet until they become fragrant and start to brown, if you have time. Otherwise, just throw them in the blender. If you're using onions, sautee them in the oil with the salt, either for a few minutes, or if you have time, until they start to brown. Blend all ingredients.

Another wonderful variation is Green Pea Hummus.

Diver with Reflection III, Willi Baumeister, 1934