Last year, I debuted my first annual Essential Cooking Gadgets list for the vegan kitchen, inspired by my friend Jan’s wisdom that the right kitchen tools make all the difference. After trying her velvety New York-style cheesecake (made with her KitchenAid Mixmaster), I was sold. Although I’ve not eaten cheesecake in some time, I have held on to Jan’s advice, and assembled a group of reliable gadgets and appliances that make cooking easier and more fun.
Who was your favorite Beatle? Mine was the cutest, Paul McCartney. Now, more than five decades later, I’ve rekindled my Paul Love. Recently I learned that McCartney and his daughters, Mary and Stella, were co-founders of Meat Free Mondays, a campaign to encourage people to adopt a climate-friendly approach to eating — cutting back on dairy and meat.
The Cutest Beatle is going back on tour. And he’s upping his commitment to the Meat Free Monday Foundation by making the following offer: Free VIP tickets to the final show of his Got Back Tour, in Rio de Janeiro.
Read on to:
Enter Paul’s sweepstakes (it’s a fundraiser, but you can enter for free).
Use Meat-Free Monday’s Impact Calculator, to see the world of difference you can make by going meat-free for a single day.
Watch a short video of The Cutest Beatle making his case for Meatless Monday.
Learn how to cut back on meat and dairy easily and slowly.
I’m obsessed with recipe-creator, food writer, and cookbook author Hetty McKinnon. As a slightly disgruntled subscriber to New York Times Cooking (not enough plant-based recipes; too many chicken sheet pan dinners), about a year ago, I realized the few NYT recipes I had incorporated into my dinner rotation were contributed by the same person: Hetty McKinnon.
What would a modern-day Normal Rockwell Thanksgiving painting include? Perhaps that iconic turkey. But at least one, probably a few, at the table would not eat it.
Listen up, Thanksgiving hosts! For everyone at your table to be satisfied, you have two options (neither requires you to torture a non-meat substance into resembling a turkey).
Wowza! Vegan Main Course: A sure-fire way to say, “I care” to a vegan at your table.
Plant-Based Side Dishes: Thanks to Miyoko’s butter, traditional standards are easily vegan-ized. No one will know (except, of course, the vegans, when you discretely whisper in their ears during cocktail hour, “you can eat the sides.”).
As a political activist who has attended more gala fundraisers than there are lawsuits against our former Orange President, I often wondered, as my comrades and I were served over-cooked chicken and tough fillet dinners, how can all of these kind-hearted, generous people, who care deeply about alleviating suffering, and the health of our planet — be eating animals?
Do you know anyone who includes a traditional appetizer course as part of an average weeknight dinner? I don’t. Who has the time to fuss with that?
Yet, if you broaden the definition of “appetizer,” to mean anything you eat before the main course, lots of people do. Including my husband and me. In fact, it’s become a running joke in our household. Sometime around 5 pm, my husband plants himself at the kitchen island, typically when I’ve started to prep dinner. I turn from my cutting board and ask him, “What would you like as an appetizer?”
I hate sheet pan dinners. Love the concept — throw all your ingredients onto one pan, slide it into the oven, and a few minutes later, you have a meal. And yet. Most plant-based sheet pan dinners don’t work. Why?
Ingredients cook at different rates. The broccoli comes out burnt (“charred” seems to be the acceptable term, but burnt broccoli by any other name is still burnt), the carrots too hard, the tofu too tough … you get the idea. Making a decent sheet pan dinner requires maintaining a vigil in your kitchen for 30-40 minutes while you slide a hot! hot! hot! sheet pan into and out of the oven to add and subtract ingredients. Because they cook at different rates.
You can tell I’ve attempted a sheet pan dinner when I have burn marks on my wrists.
One pot soups. The concept and implementation work. You have more control over the ingredients, and your wrists emerge from the process unscathed.
True or false? People who eat plant-based diets are often protein-deficient.
True or false? Vegans who are not protein-deficient put so much time into figuring out how to eat enough protein, manyignore their partner, neglect their children, fail to care for their pets, and compulsively Google “symptoms of protein deficiency.”
What do you see in this photo? Take a few moments to list the nouns, verbs, adjectives — yes, even the judgments — that come to mind.
Here’s what I see: Fear. Embarrassment. A raucous dinner with friends. A fun-fueled mess.
What you don’t see: Me backing away from this stove, in defeat.
The trouble started when I asked my friend Irina, our dinner host, “What can I do to help?” Irina was busy mixing the sauce for Pad Thai. She handed me a bowl with batter, a jar of kimchi, and said, “make the kimchi pancakes.”
That’s when fear set in. I have never made a decent pancake. They come out too thick, spongy and raw inside, or too thin, and stick to the pan. Which is why I avoid pancake recipes.
“Of course you can make pancakes,” Irina told me. “You write a cooking blog.” More fear.
I rolled up my sleeves, splashed a smidgeon of sesame oil into the frying pan, and warmed it.
The batter was way too thick. Had I tested it before I poured it into the pan, I would have known to add water.
Pancake #1: Thick, spongy, and raw inside. Embarrassment.
Pancake #2: Too thin, stuck to the pan. More embarrassment.
Watching me struggle, another guest, our friend Paola, said, “I’ll make the pancakes. I’m really good at them.” But even Paola was not good enough to turn these pancakes into a success.
Quiz Item #1: Which of the following do you consider comfort food?
1) Grilled cheese & fries
2) Meatloaf & mashed potatoes
4) All of the above.
Quiz Item #2: Why does comfort food typically = unhealthy, not-great-for-us food?
This week I needed comfort. My husband, dog Becca, and I arrived home in Vermont, after six months on the road. Last November, we took off in our Honda CRV, down the southeast coast, across to Arizona, up and down the California coast, and landed in Berkeley for two months.
The drive home was brutal. Zero-visibility white-out, wind gusts of 70+ mph through the Salt Flats of Utah. Snowstorm at 8,000 ft. approaching Vail. Trump 2024 signs plastered on barns across Missouri.
Ten days of breathing the stale air of I-70 highway motels; lunches of peanut-butter-on-a-rice-cake-with-a-side-of-vending-machine-pretzels; salt-infused restaurant dinners (insert any entree here) everywhere.
I hungered for my own food: clean soups, fresh salads, pasta with crisp vegetables, tossed lightly — not drowning — in sauce. I missed my Boos cutting board, (alphabetized!) spice drawer, the condiments inside the door of my refrigerator.
Cooking our first meal back home, I had an epiphany: Preparing a healthy meal comforts me as much as eating it. Measuring, chopping, and stirring, knowing the end result will make me (and Max) hum with delight, is my Comfort Place.
These are the first 3 meals I made. Try one, two, or all three. My hope is they’ll bring you comfort, too.
Pesto pasta with broccolini. Last summer I experimented with pesto recipes that did not use parmesan. It is with informed confidence I proclaim:
The secret to dairy-free pesto that sings: Follow Your Heart dairy-free parmesan. No one has been able to tell it’s not the “real thing.” Not even my dear friend Marjorie, who refers to my pesto as Green Gold.
Save clean-up time by dropping the broccolini into the boiling pasta during the last minute. Close your eyes while eating, and imagine yourself on a sidewalk cafe in Genoa.
Black bean burritos: The great innovation here is orange juice. Wrap the tortillas in foil and heat them in the toaster oven for a few minutes. Pile any or all onto the warm tortillas and beans:
Wonton Soup: Go to Trader Joe’s (or a supermarket, but TJ’s are the best) and buy two bags of frozen veggie dumplings. Ignore the recipe step that instructs how to make your own. If you do, this soup is ridiculously easy; 15 minutes to put together.
Use any veggies you have on hand (bok choy rocks this)
Chinese cooking wine is a must. Buy it here. You’ll use it again and again, I promise.
Substitute veggie stock for chicken stock; go for No Chicken Broth if your store has it.
BONUS: Considering a road trip this summer? Don’t leave home without these phone apps:
Summary: It lowers cholesterol and blood sugar, and boosts immune systems. It’s a Powerball of health.
Because I love you, and I want you to live a long, healthy life, I’m going to help you find your way to Kale Love. If you’re already there, gather ’round with the non-believers, and read on for some of the best kale-inclusive recipes around.
Marla’s World Famous Kale Chips have made kale-believers out of kale-naysayers. They’ll make you wonder why popcorn became the default movie theater food, not kale chips. (Warning: If eating the chips with another human, make sure you ask, “do I have dark green flecks on my teeth?” when you finish).
By now, I bet you’re craving life-changing, kale-affirming soup, salad, stew, and pesto recipes.
As a native Baltimorean, crabs are in my DNA, the only food I missed (for 32 years!) as a vegetarian. Imagine my happiness when Veg News published The Land of Kush’s crab cake recipe. I ripped it out of the magazine, filed it in my Recipes folder … and never made it. The ingredient list was daunting.
Was it thick and juicy? A grainy grey disc? Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun? (Remember thatTV ad?).
My first was a grainy grey disc at Gino’s, a chain founded in 1957 by three Baltimore Colts (rant alert: I will never forgive the Colts for moving to Indianapolis, nor do I consider the Ravens my home team). Though I could not have been more than four or five years old, I felt strongly that a Gino’s burger was far superior to McDonald’s.
I still crave burgers — but not the meat. Which makes me oh so grateful to be living in the Golden Age of Veggie Burgers. (It is also the Golden Age of Fake Meat Burgers, which I’m glad exist, but won’t eat).
This is all good. But not good enough. Because I can make better, healthier burgers at home. And so can you. To quote one of my favorite, non-vegan chefs, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, “Good vegan burgers don’t have to suck.” Here are a few, non-sucky, yummy burger recipes to get you started:
It took Americans 216 years to go from tofu-ignorance to tofu-contempt.
In 1770, Benjamin Franklin became the first American known to write about tofu, in a letter he sent from London to Philadelphia. He enclosed soybean samples. (And, one can only assume, a how-to manual).
In 1986, a Roper poll published in USA Today named tofu “America’s most loathed food.”
Changing the attitude of a tofu non-believer requires, first and foremost, eliminating its squishiness. There’s a two-part solution:
I never understood why people ate soup. What’s the point of filling up on a non-alcoholic liquid before a meal?
Then, in grad school, when I went vegetarian after reading Diet for a New Planet, and it dawned on me I had to learn to cook, I made my first soup. (Curried pea, a recipe my classmate Prashant gave me — admittedly an odd choice for my first, but it was simple and delicious). Now I got it.
These days, I make soup at least once a week. Sometimes, if it’s light enough, I eat a bowl before the main course, but mostly I’m drawn to soups substantial enough to be the main course. Add a salad, a side of kale chips (note: I’m kinda famous for these), a piece (or two) of crusty bread, and you’ve got a vitamin-packed dinner. And the next day’s lunch.
This Bon Appetit primer on how to make dairy-free, creamy soups is short, sweet, and spot-on.
Show me a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table without a single guest who’s vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, and I’ll show you a self-sufficient fishing village off the coast of Alaska.
When Aunt Marlene stopped eating gluten, her back painfinally disappeared; cousin Marissa, home from college, is preaching against factory farms; vegetarian Uncle Joe is running a half-marathon on Boxing Day, longing for pasta. What’s a host to do? (Hint: Answering Tofurky on this quiz will get you a C+, not an A).
Do you have World Vegan Day on your calendar? I didn’t. Imagine my horror when I remembered, just two days ago, that vegans throughout the world celebrate their veganocity today, November 1st. With so little time to plan, what was I to do?
I channeled my Inner Vegan Martha Stewart. Here’s what she said: Go to your backyard, and harvest the soybean crop you’ve been lovingly tending throughout the year. Today’s the day! It’s time to make tempeh. You’ll need to soak, de-hull, and mash your beans — but why settle for a decent product that’s readily available for less than $5, when you can spend days making your own? Nothing says, Happy World Vegan Day! like a gift platter of Vegan Martha tempeh. And don’t forget to download stencils of festive vegan themes, to decorate …
That’s when I asked Vegan Martha (politely), please stop!
I’m celebrating World Vegan Day by sharing a sampling of my favorite plant-based weekday suppers with you — simple pasta, tofu, Indian dal, enchiladas, and no-fuss burgers.
If you read these recipes and think, “nope, not ready to tackle any of this quite yet,” that’s okay. Reading is the first step. Happy Cow will happily guide you to a nearby plant-based restaurant.Read More
Throughout the interminable four years that Donald Jessica Trump labored to break America, I did my best to help you (and myself) get through America’s Nightmare, by publishing 105 issues of Good News from the Resistance. Now, I’m back with more Good News –news about my new-found passion, thanks to pandemic-imposed downtime: How to make delicious food. From plants.
The idea germinated with my husband Max: During the early, scariest days of COVID, he decided to go full-out plant-based. I didn’t know what to cook. We’d been vegetarian for decades, but eliminating dairy was a challenge. No more pesto (parmesan), Indian curries (butter), or bean burritos with shredded cheddar. The thought of hosting post-lockdown dinner parties (my favorite social activity), left me somewhere between fearful and despondent. What would I serve? Tofu? No one would come over. Witty conversation and Max’s Cabernet-heavy wine cellar would go only so far.