Sunday, May 23, 2010


Those of you who know me in the real world know that I'm a private person. I don't usually talk about much more than dinner on this blog because I was trying to keep it professional. Plus it also goes out to the interwebs via facebook and twitter (hello twitterverse!) so I was never sure how much of my real life to share in such a public forum. Thanks to facebook's privacy settings I'm pretty sure my entire life is an open book now anyway so I thought I'd share some more personal thoughts on this blog, especially right now.

So, I'm getting a divorce from Dandelion the Bitter Green, my husband of ten years and best friend for the last fourteen. I'd like to say that food is helping me deal with the grief but I'm not sure that's entirely true. Sometimes I can barely taste it. I haven't been cooking as much and I can tell that my body is unhappy with my choices. (Because really, who thinks that eating popcorn and an ice cream sandwich for dinner is nutritious?) I know I need to start eating healthily again but right now my body just craves fat: milk shakes, cheese, avocados... In an effort to indulge that desire I've made fake cheese sauces, eaten things that came in cans, and tried to not let the vegetables I buy at the farmer's market rot.

My favorite thing to make has been roasted vegetables. It requires little effort (simply cut the veggies you want and throw them on a pan) and frees up more time for important activities (crying, dividing up stuff, more crying).

I also made sourdough biscuits at some point. Sadly one of my sourdough starters (that was from my dad's which was over 20 years old and from the original in Jackson WY which was over a hundred years old which I had had for at least nine years) died. Trust me that you will know when sourdough has gone bad. (Unless of course you like blue cheese and then you might think it's good.) We used to make sourdough pancakes every weekend as a way to keep the starters in use. That obviously hasn't happened in a while and hence the death. But the biscuits were made with the rye starter and a bit of sage to add some interest. I had also made strawberry jam for my first attempt at jam ever! It's freezer jam, so no pectin, and essentially mashed berries with lemon juice and a little sugar. This is a picture of the biscuits with roasted vegetables.

I ate things from a can. I bought cans of refried beans which I normally never do (because it's so easy to make yourself and so much cheaper!) But sometimes convenience and ease win over effort and righteousness. Here is a picture of refried beans, roasted veggies (surprise!) in a tortilla. Pretty sure there was an avocado in there too.

Then I made pasta with cheese sauce, a nutritional yeast sauce with mustard and lemon juice from Veganomicon. It's an awesome sauce and great on pasta. I was even lazy enough that I cooked the vegetables (snap peas and carrots) in with the pasta, and added some store-bought baked tofu. I ate this for almost a week.

I've spent a lot of time in my apartment recently so I went camping. It was nice to be outside, some place else, and alone. I read vampire novels and watched the sun set. I also made macrobiotic ramen from a bag. No, this is not the ramen you ate in college that you could buy by the case. This is spelt pasta ramen from Japan with miso flavoring and it costs 4 dollars a pack! But it was delicious after the long hike up the ridge.

Tonight I've made a casserole from broccoli polenta (thanks Veganomicon!) with a layer of stir-fried (not roasted!) veggies and pinto beans and the last of the cheese sauce. It's satisfying in a casserole type of way and will hopefully last all week.

And here are some pictures of the things that keep me getting up in the morning.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Comfort Food

Sometimes the only comfort you can get is from food. I admit it's a fleeting and momentarily satisfying comfort. This week I'm sure I ate food, though some of it was definitely take out. I even have pictures of it. But all I remember is the short moment of comfort that it offered. My comfort food is not vegan nor macrobiotic. For most people, including me, it's a thing of childhood. (Hence the whole "teach your children well" aspect to that song.) My choice is straight up mac 'n cheese from a box. And right at this moment it's the most comfortable thing I have.

A salad

I can't tell you much about these dishes because I didn't make them.

Note: There might be a bit of a hiatus from the blog. I'm sure I will still eat food, just not sure I will get any joy from it for a while.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I Will Get By

'Touch of Grey,' cheesy as it is, is one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs for the sentiment in it. "I will get by. I will survive." And sometimes it feels like that's all we're doing, is getting by, in food as well as in life. I say this because over this last week, after my trip to LA, I was down to my last vegetable, my last can of beans, making stone soup to try and get by. I hadn't gone to the store in ages. And yet it was possible to get by, even though those meals may not have been my favorites of all time. (As I get older the other sentiment I love in the that song is "oh well, a touch of grey kind of suits you anyway.")

But first, an update: this week's cooking class will be rescheduled. I'm trying out acupuncture for the very first time that night! Please email or comment if you are still interested and let me know your preferred date.

Last week Dandelion the Bitter Green was on tour so I had the house to myself! I made all kinds of my favorite foods that I know he normally doesn't like or won't eat. On Monday I made a simple broccoli soup with rice and lentil leftovers.

On Tuesday I went to the Magic House in Montara and had dinner with Terra the Good Witch. We made an amazing and delicious combo of roasted brussel sprouts, quinoa with sauted veggies and a nice spinach salad with beans and cute sprouts.

On Wednesday, besides for eating two pints of strawberries all by myself, I made my favorite dish: tacos! This time with black beans (flavored with some salsa a guest left in my fridge last week) and broiled zucchini and carrots, topped with avocado and lettuce.

On Thursday I was starting to feel the stone soup pinch. I was out of my normal range of veggies other than carrots, lettuce, and braising greens. I picked up some potatoes at the store and made quinoa with carrots, braising greens, and potatoes. The carrots and potatoes were roasted in the oven. The braising greens were sauted with caramelized onions. I also tossed in some toasted almonds to add protein.

On Friday I ate at Manzanita in the east bay. Love this restaurant, even though you can't choose your meal. It's one dish only. The choice is either large portion or small. I had a delicious meal of whatever it was they were serving. It was good. And I don't even like turnips, which I'm pretty sure were included.

On Saturday leftover quinoa joined us for carrots, braising greens and a can of black beans. (The tofu I had meant to use had gone bad. In the package, no less!)

On Sunday we ate such a huge brunch at the St. Francis Fountain (where I got exactly what I had last time: Thai-style tofu scramble and a vegan milk shake with fresh strawberries) that we didn't really eat again until much later. Instead we lounged in the park with the rest of humanity.

On Monday night Dandelion the Bitter Green created an amazing almond butter, carrots, and greens dish, served along side steamed asparagus and broccoli, with rice and lentils.

On Tuesday night I made a risotto-like dish with sauted veggies, leftover rice and lentils, all flavored with white miso. I also baked some potato slices to use up the last of the potatoes.

Wednesday night is pasta night! Soba noodle pasta with roasted veggies (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, asparagus, tofu.) Roasting vegetables is the easiest thing in the world to do and it frees up time for the cook to do other valuable things like practice the same song on the guitar over and over. Or drink a beer. Or both! Time well spent in my book.

Recipe: Roasted vegetables

This recipe can really work with whatever veggies you have on hand. Harder veggies work better than soft but almost anything can be included.

1 head of broccoli
1/2 head of cauliflower
3 carrots
1 onion
(And other veggies you want: zucchini, winter squash, garlic, tofu, asparagus)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut all the veggies into small bite sized pieces. (Note: they might shrink a little in the cooking process so the pieces can be a little large.) Toss all the veggies onto a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and herbs (oregano, thyme, black pepper). Stir until all the veggies are coated and then place in the oven. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, checking after 10 minutes or so. You'll need to check the veggies and stir them occasionally so that they don't stick.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I am a teacher

I spent this weekend in LA doing yoga. Those who know me know that I do lots of yoga, mostly Kundalini yoga. I'm also a Kundalini yoga teacher (Saturdays at 11am, 1390 Waller @ Ashbury). My thought this weekend was that I am also a teacher throughout my life, when I talk to people about food, when I respond with kindness to a situation, when I walk with grace. In light of that I am going to start offering cooking classes at my house. If you are in the Bay Area come join me and we'll make a delicious dinner, talk about food, and have some recipes to take home. The first one will be Friday the 30th. Cost is $10 for food and the menu is yet to be decided. If you have requests for a seasonal dish or something that has appeared on the blog that you've always wanted to learn how to cook please let me know. RSVP to hold a spot, class size is limited.

And now on to the food!

For the wedding I had a tomato based soup, which is all I can remember about it now. The main course was quinoa with miso-glazed tofu and veggies. My dessert was special and had a fancy French name that translated to 'pot of chocolate' a sort of vegan chocolate pudding. This was all courtesy of The Plant Cafe on the Embarcadero.

Sunday night I made pasta with cheese sauce from the Veganomicon, broiled tofu, and roasted veggies.

Monday night I went out to dinner. Tuesday night I used the rest of the cheese sauce for the best casserole I've ever made. The bottom layer was polenta with broccoli, a sauted layer of veggies and cannelini beans, all topped with the cheese sauce and baked in the oven for 10 minutes. The cheese sauce really tied all the ingredients together and helped it fully feel like a casserole.

Wednesday night I ate out. Thursday night I made a big pot of rice and lentils (that I will probably be eating for a week). I broiled some carrots and zucchini with lots of garlic, served the rice with caramelized onions, and used up a whole bunch of kale by making crispy kale chips with nutritional yeast.

Friday for brunch I ate at the St. Francis Fountain. It was the best brunch I've had in ages. A truly delicious Thai style tofu scramble (with homemade peanut sauce, spinach, and mushrooms, toast, and crispy homefries.

I couldn't resist ordering a vegan milkshake with fresh strawberries blended into it. Best milkshake I've had in ages!

In LA on Saturday night I ate at my favorite macrobiotic restaurant, the M Cafe. I got what I get every time when I eat there: the seitan katsu (this time in bento box form).

Our neighbor also let us try a bit of his vegan pizza made with Daiya cheese. It was good cheese but since I haven't seen the ingredients I'm still skeptical. I think I'd rather just eat real things rather than fakes.

I returned home on Sunday and made a simple meal with the leftover rice and lentils. I stry-fried some carrots, broccoli, and shiitake mushrooms, all tossed in an almond butter- miso sauce.

Friday, April 9, 2010


My best friend the Cheerful Baker is getting married this weekend and I have lots of wedding (which I keep trying to type as "weeding") related activities. So many dinners out and not much cooking. But here's the rundown on what went on before this crazy weekend started.

So last Saturday we had pancakes for brunch and dinner since there were still some left. We also made a big salad with marinated tofu and grated carrots, tossed with a light vinegar and olive oil dressing for the dinner version.

On Sunday I made a risotto with white beans, leftover rice, broccoli and carrots. We also topped it with a revised version of the Crispy Kale recipe. It's cooked just the same except tamari sauce is added during the end of the cooking time. Then no salt or nutritional yeast is necessary.

On Monday we ate at Burgermeister for a portabella mushroom burger and fries. On Tuesday Dandelion the Bitter Green made a curry lentil dish with broccoli, carrots, and lightly steamed kale mixed in at the last minute, served over brown rice.

Wednesday I made roasted vegetables with all the bounty from the farmer's market: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, onions, garlic. A side dish of black beans and leftover rice rounded out the meal. I spent most of the evening making cupcakes: chocolate with cream cheese frosting. I love that the recipe (from the Cheerful Baker) was her mother's and called it the "crazy cake" recipe because it doesn't use eggs or milk, i.e. vegan before there was vegan. It makes a delicious chocolate cake but don't pretend it's healthy just because it's vegan.


Vegan Chocolate Cake (aka "Crazy Cake")

3 cups flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour for more nutrition but similar consistency to all-purpose flour)
2 cups sugar (I use Succanat which is evaporated cane juice. You could probably use any solid sugar)
1/2 cups cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp white vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups cold water

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir until well combined. Pour into baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes if cupcakes, 25-30 min if 2 8" rounds, and 30-40 min if 9x13" pan.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Like my friend Hilary's blog, I'm going to try to remember to include some inspiration occasionally. Lately it's been what I've been reading. I started reading Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour, which is his 'round the world quest to find the perfect meal. It includes a lot of meat, of course, but his way of describing food, as well as his state of mind, is fascinating. The first chapter is about a pig slaughter that he participates in in Portugal.

"And I'd seen an animal die. It changed me. I didn't feel good about it. It was, in fact, unpleasant in the extreme. I felt guilty, a little bit ashamed. I felt bad for that pig, imagining his panic, pain, and fear. But he'd tasted delicious. We'd wasted maybe eight ounces of his total weight."

I think more people should have to witness something like this. To look their food in the eye before they eat it. I think people would have more respect for their food (and perhaps eat less of it) if they knew what it had experienced before arriving, harmlessly shrink-wrapped in their supermarket.

As for dinner this week, there have been many meals cooked by Dandelion the Bitter Green. Not the least of which was this amazing dinner waiting for me when my flight landed at 10:30 at night. Grilled tempeh with rice and lentils and a curried veggies dish.

After the farmer's market last week I had an excess of asparagus. The first night I made roasted asparagus (along with other veggies) and tempeh served over soba noodles.

Thursday night I tried out a recipe from a new cookbook The 30 Minute Vegan by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray. I made Crispy Kale which uses my new favorite item: nutritional yeast! I thought it was delicious but when I made it again a few days later (I had an excess of kale last week too) Dandelion the Bitter Green felt like it wasn't to his liking. So not sure how often I'll make it in the future. (I have included my version of the recipe below.) This was served with polenta, steamed carrots, and white beans cooked with herbs.

Friday night we had taco noche with asparagus, carrots, and greens, leftover beans, and avocado in sprouted corn tortillas.

Saturday night we ate leftovers. Sunday night I made more Crispy Kale, along with baked polenta, broiled tofu, and a stir-fry of greens.

Monday night was roasted veggies again, including the asparagus, served over rice and lentils with an almond butter sauce.

Tuesday night Dandelion the Bitter Green added to that dish by making a stir-fry of greens and adding the leftover roasted veggies, served over leftover rice and lentils.

Wednesday night we had Chinese takeout, which I took a picture of so that you can compare it to our homemade Chinese food on Thursday night: tofu, carrots, Chinese broccoli leftover, served over buckwheat.

Crispy Kale (adapted from The 30 Minute Vegan by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray)

1 bunch of kale (I used dino kale. The original recipe recommends the curly leaf type of kale.)
2 Tblsp olive oil
3 Tblsp nutritional yeast (OR LESS. This was probably the reason that Dandelion the Bitter Green didn't like the dish. There ended up being too much nutritional yeast. Start with 2 Tblsp and see if you like that.)
pinch of sea salt (The original recipe called for 1/2 tsp but this was too much salt even for me. If a pinch is not enough for you, try adding more slowly, pinch by pinch.)

Preheat the oven to 350. Wash and cut the kale into bite sized pieces. Layer them on a cookie sheet, ideally all in one layer nicely separated from each other. If there's too much kale just put them on there anyway and remember to stir occasionally. Bake for 15 minutes or until the kale is crunchy.

Remove from the oven and put in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle the nutritional yeast and salt over the mixture. Toss it together with your hands until everything is well coated. DO NOT REFRIGERATE! Kale will lose all crispiness if you do that.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I fell in love with Boston because of the beautiful brownstones, the parks, the walking, ok, it was really the ducks. (This is Make Way for Ducklings.)

I didn't have to do too many meal planning activities myself while there. My lovely coworkers very considerately included restaurants that had at least one veggie option. The most frequent breakfast option (which I did find myself) was a tofu scramble. The Otherside Cafe was awesome and I'm sad I never went there for beer since they had a great list.

Here was breakfast one morning at the Otherside Cafe. A southwest tofu scramble:

We ate a seafood restaurant one night. This is what my coworker ate:

And surprisingly this is what I ate at the same restaurant. A Thai-style tofu dish with rice and veggies.

Another tofu scramble, this time with broccoli, mushrooms, and Havarti cheese at the Trident Cafe. (Loved having an indie bookstore that also had delicious food!)

This was a dinner from a more Asian-style place. Rice, tofu, veggies, and sauce.

A breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruit plus potatoes at my hotel. Sadly I again had to learn the lesson that fruit out of season is not worth eating.

And one night I ate an Indian restaurant: rice, cauliflower and chickpeas, and lots of roti (whole wheat naan).

Happy to be back in California, even with this beautiful city to visit!