Vegetarian Ukrainian Borscht

February 8, 2023 at 10:23 am (Beans, B_(3 stars, like), Cruciferous rich, Instant Pot, Root vegetables, soup, Spring recipes, Summer recipes, To test on plan, Uncategorized, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

Alma likes beets, as do Derek and I, but I don’t actually make that many dishes with them. I make a beet and lentil salad pretty often, and I occasionally make a beet and potato walnut gratin. And sometimes we just have plain beets as a side. But other than that I don’t use beets that often. I was trying to think of other things to do with beets, and a friend suggested making borscht. Given that we are smack in the middle of winter, I liked the idea of adding another soup to the rotation, so I decided to give it a try. I don’t have a recipe for borscht so I started looking on the internet. Many of the recipes I found call for meat (like this one from Serious Eats). But I found a recipe for a Ukrainian Vegetarian Borscht that looked good to me. I served it for dinner tonight with extra white beans on the side and with dark 100% rye bread from our local farmer’s market. Read the rest of this entry »

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Do “ancestral grains” like quinoa really have more protein than modern grains?

February 20, 2022 at 11:00 pm (Food Science, Uncategorized)

I keep seeing claims online that say things like “All of these ancestral grains are packed full of fiber, nutrients, and delicious distinctive taste. They’re also higher in protein than modern grains.” Really? I keep hearing this claim about quinoa and amaranth being higher in protein than modern grains, but I’m skeptical. I guess it depends on what you consider a “modern grain.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegetarian Posole in the Instant Pot

December 14, 2020 at 8:10 pm (Beans, Grains, Instant Pot, Jill Nussinow, Mexican & S. American, One pot wonders, Uncategorized)

My Mom sent us a pound of hominy in a Chanukah package, and I decided to try to make posole from it. The package said you should simmer the hominy for 1 to 2 hours, which seemed like a long time, so I decided to make the posole in my Instant Pot. I looked in my “Vegan Under Pressure” cookbook but they don’t list any cooking times for dried hominy. But I looked in the index and found posole. Success! But when I actually turned to the recipe I discovered it with calling for pre-cooked, canned hominy. I guessed that the hominy would cook in about the same amount of time as dried beans, so I soaked both overnight, and then roughly followed the recipe. Except I wasn’t sure exactly how much hominy to use for the 1 can of hominy the recipe calls for. I had soaked the whole pound of dried hominy so I decided just to use the whole thing. I also had soaked 500g of cranberry beans. So that’s where I started. I sauteed some aromatics, then cooked both the soaked beans and hominy together in the instant pot for I think about 12 minutes (but that’s a guess, I didn’t write it down and now I’ve forgotten), followed by a natural release. But at that point the hominy was clearly undercooked. I cooked the beans and hominy for a bit longer under pressure, at which point the beans were definitely soft enough but the hominy was still a bit underdone. Whoops. Maybe I should have put the soaked hominy in with unsoaked cranberry beans instead, and cooked them together for 35 minutes under pressure + NR? In any case, despite the hominy being a tad firm, the posole was yummy. Derek and I both really enjoyed it, but Alma said it was too spicy for her and she really didn’t like the texture of the hominy.

I don’t remember exactly what I did, but here’s my best guess:


  • 1 pound cranberry beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 pound dried hominy, soaked overnight
  • 4 large cloves garlic, mined
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder + 1 Tbs. ancho powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1.5 tsp. salt (total guess)
  • whole tomatoes (maybe 1.5 cups?)
  • tomato puree (maybe 1 cup?)
  • frozen corn (maybe 1 cup?)

I sauteed the onion over medium heat, then added the garlic, ground cumin, chili powders, and smoked paprika and sauteed another minute. I added the soaked hominy and soaked, drained beans, and added I think 5 cups of vegetable broth and salt. After the beans and hominy were cooked (see note above) I added some whole tomatoes from a jar, about a cup of tomato puree, and maybe 1 cup of frozen corn. I locked the lid back on and let it sit for 3 minutes. I seasoned with lime juice and cilantro to taste.

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Can’t find brown sugar in Germany? Make your own

April 29, 2020 at 10:31 pm (Cooking tips, Uncategorized)

We can’t find American-style brown sugar in Germany. You can get unrefined sugars, but not the white sugar + molasses style sugar we typically call “brown sugar” in America. So when we are following American recipes we usually make our own brown sugar substitute:

For light brown sugar pulse 1 cup of granulated sugar in the food processor with 1 tablespoon of molasses.

For dark brown sugar, use 2 tablespoons of molasses for the same 1 cup of granulated sugar.

If there are liquid ingredients in your recipe you can just add the molasses directly to the liquid ingredients and skip the pulsing step.

Sometimes we use date syrup instead of molasses. It doesn’t seem to make a big difference in terms of the flavor, and it’s easier to come by.

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What to do with a lot of lemon or lime zest?

November 12, 2018 at 8:44 pm (Uncategorized)

I still remember years ago when I attended the vegetarian summer fest and Dr. Michael Greger admonished us (his audience) for regularly throwing away the healthiest part of the lemon—the zest. So now I try to remember to zest my lemons (or other citrus, as long as I bought organic) before I juice them. But what do you do with all that zest?

My Mom had to pick all her Meyer lemons this weekend because they’re expecting a freeze . She asked me for ideas on how to use the zest. Here are my ideas for what to do when you have a lot of lemon or lime zest to use up. Anyone else have great ideas I’m missing? Read the rest of this entry »

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Red lentil and spinach pancakes

May 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm (Beans, B_minus (2.5 stars), Dark leafy greens, Uncategorized, Website / blog) ()

Alma does not like red lentils. She will happily eat brown lentils, green lentils, and black lentils, but if I give her a bite of red lentils she invariably spits them out. I think it’s a texture thing, so I thought I’d try this recipe from the Healthy Little Foodies blog for red lentil and spinach pancakes. The recipe is really simple — just soaked (not cooked) red lentils, garlic and spices, and fresh spinach. Read the rest of this entry »

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Broccoli, feta, lime frittata

December 10, 2016 at 3:28 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cook's Illustrated, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Monthly menu plan: dinner, Necessarily nonvegan, Uncategorized) ()

The frittata is called the lazy cook’s omelet. Sounds perfect, no? I like omelets but I’m definitely lazy. I’ve tried various frittata recipes before, but neither Derek nor I ever like them. They’re always a bit too dry and rubbery. Or over-browned. Or just meh. But I’ve always thought that maybe my technique was just wrong. So I decided to give it another go, when Cook’s Illustrated came out with a new frittata series this year. And I thought it came out pretty well! Definitely better than my previous attempts. It makes excellent leftovers, cold or warm.

And Alma really likes it (at least as of September 2017). I’ve since made it several times and she always really enjoys it. The magic of feta cheese perhaps? Read the rest of this entry »

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Wintry root vegetable risotto with red beans

November 12, 2016 at 11:35 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, Fall recipes, Grains, Peter Berley, Uncategorized, Winter recipes)

A friend served us this recipe from Peter Berley’s cookbook The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, and both Derek and I really liked it. Shredded carrots and parsnips add a bit of sweetness, turnips add a slightly funky note, while the beans add an earthy, hearty feel. Ginger and tomato paste add even more flavor. The original recipe also calls for burdock, but we can’t get it here, so we left it out. I’m sure it would make the dish truly stellar. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kasha casserole with mushrooms, parsnips, carrots, and chickpeas

November 10, 2016 at 2:38 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Fall recipes, Grains, Peter Berley, Uncategorized, Winter recipes)

When my mom was visiting she made me kasha with mushrooms, and I quite enjoyed it. I have quite a bit of the toasted groats leftover, and so when I was looking for something to do with parsnips last night, I was excited to come across this recipe in Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast. It came out a bit soupy, but I really liked it! Read the rest of this entry »

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Eat the rainbow fridge chart

July 5, 2016 at 10:44 pm (Menus, Uncategorized) ()

I am trying to make sure Alma’s diet includes a large variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as at least one serving of nuts/seeds, whole grains, and legumes per day. It’s surprisingly hard! I thought some kind of chart might help.

There are lots of charts on the internet, but they all seemed limited in some way. So I decided to make my own “Eat the Rainbow” chart. It includes a color-coded list of foods and a weekly checklist. I use the food lists to get ideas during our weekly meal-planning session, and I use the checklist to keep track of what we’re eating during the week.


I’ve seen a lot of sources online that suggest trying to get each color in every day. That seems impossible! Right now my goal is to offer each color at least a couple times a week, and offer at least a couple different colors each day.

My list has many more rows than most “Eat the Rainbow” charts that are available on the web. First of all, in my list each color is separated into two rows, one for fruit and one for vegetables. I separated them because getting Alma to eat a variety of vegetables is much more difficult than getting her to eat fruit, which she almost universally loves. Another oddity about my list is that there are several rows for green vegetables. In my original chart the green vegetable list was way too long, so I separated out leafy greens and brassicas. I figured those nutritional powerhouses deserved their own row, especially since they get their own category on my blog! I also separated out mushrooms, since technically they’re fungi not vegetables, and because they are tasty enough to get their own category.

I thought I’d post my chart here in case anyone else finds it helpful. Feedback and/or suggestions are welcome! I tried to make it pretty comprehensive but I’m sure there are things I left out. I considered having different versions of the list for each season, but deciding what went in which list was impossible, due to regional variability and the availability of frozen foods.

You can download a pdf file of my Weekly Eat the Rainbow Chart. If you prefer to plan menus on a monthly basis, then try my Monthly Eat the Rainbow Chart.


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Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt, and Egg

January 7, 2016 at 9:50 pm (101 cookbooks, Beans, C (2 stars, okay, edible), Necessarily nonvegan, Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Uncategorized)

This is another recipe featured on Food52’s Genius Recipes page. It’s from Heidi Swanson’s cookbook Super Natural Every Day. I chose it because I had some chickpeas and homemade vegetable broth to use up, and a student of mine from Iran got me a boatload of saffron as a gift. Also, it looked pretty easy, and I needed to make a quick lunch that was suitable for both Alma and me. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gooey bittersweet brownies

January 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm (Alice Medrich, Brownies and bars, B_minus (2.5 stars), Uncategorized)

I already have an Alice Medrich cocoa-only brownie recipe I like a lot, but this one was featured on the Food52 Genius Recipes page, and has been getting rave reviews for its ultra gooey, ultra chocolatey qualities.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Borlotti bean mole with winter squash and kale

January 7, 2016 at 5:03 pm (101 cookbooks, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, Beans and greens, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Fall recipes, Mexican & S. American, One pot wonders, Uncategorized, Winter recipes)

I made this 101cookbooks recipe right before I left for Israel last month, when I wanted to use up some steamed kale and some roasted squash.  I only had one serving, but I quite enjoyed it. I thought the dish was extremely hearty and flavorful, and made a great one-pot dinner. Beans and greens and chocolate. How can you go wrong?  I’ll definitely be trying it again. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brown rice supper with tofu, peanut sauce, and stir-fried carrots

December 31, 2015 at 12:07 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Deborah Madison, East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, Grains, Root vegetables, Sauce/dressing, Spring recipes, Tofu, Uncategorized, Winter recipes)

In the 70s and 80s many vegetarian restaurants offered some kind of brown rice bowl, which consisted of some combination of borwn rice, tofu, beans, veggies, and a sauce. In NYC in Angelica Kitchen they called it the Dragon Bowl. It’s simple, hearty, co-op food—nothing fancy, but tasty and filling. So when I asked Derek to pick a recipe for dinner last night, he picked this “brown rice supper” menu from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers cookbook. Read the rest of this entry »

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Double Broccoli Quinoa Recipe

November 16, 2015 at 9:40 pm (101 cookbooks, B_minus (2.5 stars), Cruciferous rich, Grains, Sauce/dressing, Uncategorized)

We are big broccoli fans here. Even Alma loves broccoli. And pesto? Yes. So a double broccoli quinoa recipe with broccoli and broccoli pesto from 101cookbooks  — sounded great.  But it ended up being a surprising amount of work, and had an awfully lot of fat for something that didn’t taste particularly decadent. We didn’t love it. And there were a few things about the recipe that we found odd. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cauliflower in a roasted onion-chile sauce

November 16, 2015 at 9:26 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Cruciferous rich, Indian, Raghavan Iyer, Uncategorized)

Derek picked this recipe out of our new Indian cookbook: 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. He thought it would make an easy weeknight recipe. I liked the recipe, but it turns out it’s not so quick. Read the rest of this entry »

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Another myth: vegans need to combine beans and grains to create “complete proteins”

July 18, 2015 at 8:20 pm (Uncategorized)

My mom recently asked me if wild rice combines with beans to form a “complete protein,” as brown rice does. I thought I’d post my answer to her here, as the myth about complete proteins is pretty widespread.

The “incomplete protein” myth was first popularized by Frances Moore Lappé in her 1971 book, Diet for a Small Planet. The main concern is that, as a general rule, legumes are lower in the essential amino acid methionine while most other plants foods (including grains) are lower in the essential amino acid lysine. So to get a “complete protein” you have to eat grains and beans together.

An aside: I’m not sure how “most other plant foods” became “grains.” Maybe it’s because most people think beans and grains are the only plant foods that have much protein? They seem to not realize that nuts and vegetables can also provide non-negligible amounts of protein.

But going back to the complete protein myth. Today, most vegetarians (at least) know that your body can store the essential amino acids and so you don’t have to actually eat grains and beans together at every meal. But many vegetarians still seem to believe that you have to eat both grains and beans in order to get all the essential amino acids. But that is also a myth. What is true: Most vegans will need to eat beans and other high-lysine foods regularly in order to meet the RDA for the essential amino acid lysine. Grains are not necessary. A vegan that is getting enough protein should have no problem getting enough methionine. Read the rest of this entry »

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Massamun curry with potatoes, carrots, onions, pineapple, and peanuts

May 10, 2015 at 2:20 pm (Uncategorized)

Here’s another recipe that Hanaleah made while she was here last week. It’s from the cookbook Buddha’s Table by Chat Mingkwan. We didn’t have the time to make the massamun curry paste from scratch, so we used store-bought red curry paste and added the sweet spices to it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Yam and Peanut Stew with Kale

November 9, 2014 at 1:14 pm (Beans, Beans and greens, B_(3 stars, like), Fall recipes, Middle East / N. Africa, One pot wonders, Root vegetables, soup, Uncategorized, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

My sister loves this recipe for a yam and peanut stew with kale, and has recommended it to me several times. She mentioned it again last week and coincidentally I had (almost) all the ingredients on hand (everything but the roasted and salted peanuts and the scallions). Hanaleah said that I could leave off both, since they’re just garnishes. So I decided to make it for dinner.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Three nights in vegetarian Prague

June 29, 2014 at 9:09 pm (Trip report, Uncategorized)

I spent three days last week in Prague with my sister, my brother, and my sister-in-law. Three of the four of us were vegetarian, so we mostly ate at vegetarian or ethnic restaurants. Below are some notes.

Hotel K+K Fenix: I was quite impressed by the breakfast at our hotel. It was open long hours, offered a wide selection of cold and hot items, and even included some organic items. There was lots of tasty fresh fruit including melons, kiwis, apricots, cherries, and apples. Other cold items included various pastries and cakes, various breads and jams and nutella, various juices, milk including soymilk, yogurt, meusli and various cold cereals, and nuts and dried fruit. On the hot side, there were hard-boiled eggs, broiled tomatoes, and sautéed mushrooms. The quality of the food generally seemed quite high. The only thing I tried that I really didn’t like were the scrambled eggs.

Kotleta: We ate our first lunch on the patio of this restaurant right near the old town square. The name of the restaurant apparently translates to “eyeball,” which is not the most appetizing of names. But our tour guide recommended it, and we were hungry, so we let her cajole us into eating there, despite the fact that it didn’t have a lot of vegetarian options. It’s supposedly a non-smoking restaurant but lots of people were smoking on the patio. We shared a few different dishes. The portobello mushroom appetizer was quite small, with only two tiny portobellos, but I thought they were tasty. The grilled marinated peppers were yellow bell peppers on top of large mounds of feta cheese. We ordered a salad with gratinated goat cheese on toast, marinated fig in honey and herbs, roasted walnuts, grapes and a wild cherry dressing. The dressing was a little too sweet for me but the salad was okay. Finally, I ordered a baked potato. Everyone was making fun of me for ordering such a boring dish, but I quite liked it. The skin was nice and crispy and the inside was various moist. The salad, grilled peppers, small baked potato, and 2 little portobello mushrooms cost 249+169+79+79=576 crowns, which adds up to $9.55 per person just for the vegetarian food. We were definitely paying a tourist bonus. We also ordered drinks, which were actually my favorite part of the meal. I got a ginger lemonade which was very gingery, and my sister-in-law ordered a cucumber lemonade that was bright green and tasted strongly of cucumbers. Both were absolutely delicious, although too strong for my brother and sister.

Maitrea: We ate dinner our first night at this vegetarian restaurant, which a friend had recommended. We started with a selection of mixed starters, which consisted of hummus, red beet tartare, roasted bell peppers, pickled goat cheese, a spinach crêpe, and bread). Everyone else thought that the starter plate was really bland and boring, but I liked it. The hummus mostly tasted like mashed chickpeas, with little lemon juice or garlic, but I found it satisfying. I think one issue was that everything was pretty low-salt. I also ordered a bowl of lentil soup, which was again pretty plain but with some sweet spice (cloves?) that I couldn’t quite identify. Again, I liked it more than anyone else. We shared four main dishes. I thought the vegetable lasagna was reasonable, but my sister and sister-in-law found it sour and offputting. We ordered a spinach and arugula salad with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, smoked tofu, and a balsamico-honey reduction. I liked the smoked tofu but found the dressing too sweet. My sister liked the salad much more than me. My brother ordered Thai eggplant with tofu, fresh coriander, chili peppers, and coconut milk, which I couldn’t eat. The sauce was just too sweet and goopy. Everyone’s favorite dish was the meatless „chicken“ and mushroom balls with oven-roasted vegetables, basil pesto and homemade tofunnaise. The balls were very tasty, but unfortunately there were only three of them. Overall no one was particularly impressed with the food, but everyone agreed that the ambience and decor of the restaurant was quite nice. If this restaurant were in Saarbruecken I’d definitely go back, as I’m sure with some trial and error I could find a couple of dishes I really like. The meal for the four of us with water and a few non-alcoholic drinks came to about 1050 crowns, or $13.05 per person.

Modry Zub Noodle Bar: For lunch on our second day we went to what we thought was a Thai order-at-the-counter joint. But it turned out that most of the tables were part of a sit-down restaurant. So we were relegated to a little table off to the side. We thought it was a fast food kind of place but it ended up taking quite a while for them to bring us our food. The four of us shared three dishes: a green curry with tofu, pad thai, and ma-muang tofu with veggies and cashew nuts. I liked the green curry, but my brother didn’t care for it much. My brother and sister really liked the cashew dish. Overall it was a pleasant lunch, and three dishes was plenty for the four of us. Altogether the lunch cost 535 crowns, or $6.65 per person. They even gave us free tap water!

Pizzeria Ristorante GiovanniFor our second dinner we went to this Italian restaurant not far from the center. The first table they sat us at was very smoky, so we asked to be moved, and they moved us to a different room which was apparently their non-smoking section. We ordered a tomato soup and garlic bread as appetizers, but they brought them out at the same time as our main dishes. The garlic bread was basically just pizza dough with no discernible garlic flavor. The tomato soup was very good though, and we ended up spreading it on the garlic bread to give it some flavor. My sister ordered the tortelli tartufo, which were stuffed with truffle and asparagus in a tomato-truffle cream sauce. I couldn’t detect any asparagus, but the truffle and cream sauce was tasty.  We shared a salad of arugula, tomatoes, carrot, and zucchini, which was fine, but the salad dressing seemed to be just oil. Luckily there was balsamic vinegar on the table, and that helped. I ordered the pasta primavera, which was a bit small and really boring. It had very few vegetables and needed some pizzazz. My sister liked the noodles though. She thought they tasted homemade. Our final dish was a regina margherita pizza with buffalo mozzarella, arugula, and cherry tomatoes, and we added olives to it. Again, it was inoffensive but boring. It helped to dip it in the tomato soup. I guess it needed more tomato sauce? Altogether with a bottle of water the meal came to 1130 crowns, or $14.04 per person.

Bombay Express: My sister and I got take-out from this Indian fast food joint, and took it on the train with us for dinner. The yellow dal was pretty tasty, but the saag paneer wasn’t quite right. Both dishes came with massive quantities of rice. For the two dishes and two take out boxes they charged us 188 crowns, about $4.68 per person.

Clear Head (Lehka Hlava): My sister and I ate our last lunch at this vegetarian restaurant, which turned out to be a sister restaurant to Maitrea. I was in a bit of a rush because I had to get to the airport, so I just ordered a bowl of red lentil and carrot soup. The bowl was quite small and brothy, and it didn’t seem like nearly enough food for lunch. So I asked the waitress what else I could order that would come quickly, and she recommended the quesadilla with marinated vegetarian “chicken.” It arrived quickly and piping hot, but I found it a bit odd tasting. The inside had not only the vegetarian mock meat and cheese, but tons of grainy mustard. I found the combination odd, and I thought that the dish as a whole needed salsa desperately. The quesadilla came with a bit of guacamole, which was pleasant, and helped to add a bit of flavor to the dish. My sister ordered the beet burger, which was huge and disconcertingly bloody looking. The burger was on a bun with pickles and soggy lettuce and some kind of creamy sauce. She had also ordered it with cheddar, but she said that with the sauce and the cheddar it was too rich. She ended up pulling off the bun and just eating the burger. She said it was better that way. I tried it but didn’t particularly care for the dish. Since it was my last meal in Prague, I splurged and ordered another ginger lemonade. This one tasted different than my first one, but was equally delicious. Wow, was it ginger-y and lemon-y. I wish I could get it in Saarbruecken! I guess I’ll have to learn how to make something similar myself. Altogether our meal with drinks added up to 485 crowns, or about $12.06 per person.

My sister and I left Prague for a couple of days and took the train out to the Adršpach-Teplice Rocks. The park itself was lovely, and we spent a very nice morning and early afternoon hiking through the Teplice section of the park. But food was an issue. We were staying right near the park rather than in a town, and all the restaurants at the hotels near us were inexplicably closed. We ended up having to go 2 km to the single restaurant in the nearest town (which was more like a village). The vegetarian pickings were very slim, and we ended up with a plate of french fries, mayonnaise, deep fried cheese or broccoli, and cabbage salad. Although we enjoyed the natural environment, foodwise we were quite glad to return to the more veggie-friendly Prague.

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Biggest mistakes recipe writers make

March 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm (Uncategorized)

The eatyourbooks blog recently had a post about the most aggravating mistakes in printed recipes. I agree with many of the items in their list, but not all of them. Below are my top complaints. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roasted sweet potato fries

February 17, 2014 at 10:49 pm (Fall recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Starches, Uncategorized, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

I’ve decided to go on an elimination diet for a month, to see if it helps my allergies. I chose the foods to eliminate based on how allergenic they seem to be in general, as well as the results of a skin-prick test I had years ago. I decided to eliminate the three big allergens—soy, dairy, and gluten—as well as a number of other foods.

Today was my first day of what I call my “allergy-free” diet and I got home from work quite late and found very little in the fridge, since we were out of town all weekend and I didn’t get a chance to do my normal Saturday morning shopping. Normally I would throw together a pasta dish or a stir-fry with veggies and tofu, but today I had to be a little more creative. I found some sweet potatoes and a jar of giant white beans in the pantry, and so I improvised what turned out to be a quite tasty dinner of sweet potato fries and white beans with leeks and dill and parsley. (I had chopped herbs in the freezer.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Beet and purslane salad with raspberry vinegar

September 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm (Uncategorized)

I see purslane (Portulaca in German) in the Turkish Market here once a year, for about a week, then it’s gone.  So when I see it, I grab it up.   Today I enjoyed it for dinner two different ways.  First I made a salad of diced beets, fresh purslane, some grated parmesan, and raspberry vinegar.  Then as my second course, I sautéed the remaining leaves and smaller stems briefly, then added an egg to make a purslane scrambled egg, which was also very tasty.  I wish I had bought more!  Maybe they’ll still have it on Monday…


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What I’ve been eating lately

September 17, 2012 at 8:51 am (Menus, Uncategorized)

I’ve gotten two requests recently to update my blog and let my reader’s know what I’ve been making these past few months.  I know I haven’t posted much lately.  But don’t worry, I have been eating lots.  Here’s the  answer to your question about what I’ve been making/eating. Read the rest of this entry »

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Asparagus with gremolata, lemon, and olive oil

April 25, 2012 at 10:02 am (Italian, Spring recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog)

This post is about another recipe I found on the New York Times, in Martha Rose Shulman’s Recipes for Health series.  Besides being really tasty, asparagus is a nutritional power house.  And its one of the first fresh green vegetables that is available here in the spring.  (Okay, actually the asparagus here is usually white, but I don’t like it very much, and always try to find green asparagus.)  I usually roast asparagus and then drizzle it with balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese, but I had a big bunch of parsley in the fridge and decided to try something new—steamed asparagus with gremolata. Read the rest of this entry »

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Learning to like new foods

February 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve been a vegetarian since birth.  You’d think by now my taste in fruits and vegetables would be pretty fixed.  After all these years, I was surprised to discover that I suddenly liked two three foods that I had never really liked much before:  turnips, kiwi fruit, and dried apricots. Read the rest of this entry »

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A lasagna for every season

August 7, 2011 at 7:42 pm (Pasta, Starches, Uncategorized)

In updating a recipe on this blog I noticed that I have quite a few lasagna recipes, all of which are vegetarian (of course), but quite different from one another. I also noticed that in the various recipes I tend to spell lasagna two different ways (either with an “a” or with an “e” at the end).  I looked it up and apparently “lasagna” is the singular, but in Italy only the plural “lasagne” is used.  But I think I prefer the American spelling, which allows you to distinguish between one lasagna and multiple lasagnas. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade vegetable broth, from scraps

October 3, 2010 at 12:46 am (Cook's Illustrated, Georgeanne Brennan, Uncategorized)

I was looking for my notes on vegetable broth and was surprised to discover that I’ve never written about it on my blog.  There are a million blog posts about making vegetable broth, and I’m by no means an expert, but I decided to make a post to keep track of all the broth-related info that I find online. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade veggie burgers

May 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm (Uncategorized)

Veggie burgers are convenient, cheap, reasonably healthy emergency food for vegetarians (or for non-vegetarians).  As a result, just about every cooking or consumer site has carried out a taste test to see which ones are the best.  Cook’s Illustrated didn’t care for any of the frozen veggie burgers they tried, although they did say that the Gardenburger Original was the best of the bunch. It’s made up of mostly mushrooms, brown rice, onion, and a touch of mozzarella cheese.  I do like the Gardenburger Original, but I disagree with their generally negative view of frozen veggie burgers.  When I lived in the states there were a number of different veggie burgers I found more than acceptable.   But here in Germany the veggie burger doesn’t exist.  I can get countless varieties of veggie sausages and even veggie schnitzel, but no veggie burgers.  So I decided to try to make my own. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is there any locally made tempeh available in NYC?

October 8, 2009 at 2:15 pm (Uncategorized)

I want to cook tempeh when I’m in NYC, but I’d prefer not to buy the mediocre stuff from Lightlife or White Wave.  Does anyone know of any tempeh that’s locally made, or at least better than the national brands?  I did an internet search but didn’t find anything.

Update December 13, 2009:

When I was in NYC I found two brands of tempeh:  Lightlife and Soy Boy.  Neither of them tasted as good as the tempeh I get here in Saarbruecken.  They were both thinner and harder in texture.

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Pomegranate Fennel Slaw

September 17, 2008 at 6:11 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Cruciferous rich, My brain, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetable dishes)

I really love a good coleslaw.  Not the pasty, suffocating in mayonnaise slaw that you find in a bad deli, or at a catered picnic, but the crisp, refreshing, jewel-toned cole slaw that’s always featured on the cover of Real Simple or Cooking Light. I particularly like coleslaws that include fennel and tart apple.  I was trying to choose a dressing for a fennel/apple slaw, when I thought of using pomegranate molasses.  I originally bought it for the barbecued tofu recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance, and since then I’ve been experimenting with other way ways to use it.  It makes a nice tea-like/juice-like beverage when added to cold water.  The resulting beverage is not unlike tamarind “cider”: a little sweet, a little tart, and a lot… brown.  But no worries, the pomegranate molasses doesn’t mute the perky colors of this coleslaw. I really liked the pomegranate sweet and sour flavor in this coleslaw, especially with the added sweet and sour of the Jonagold apples from the local farmer’s market.


  • about 1/6 head of red cabbage, shredded (10 ounces)
  • one large fennel bulb (about 1 pound), sliced thinly (about 1/8 inch thick)
  • 2 medium tart apples (about 6 ounces each), julienned
  • 1 carrot, grated (optional)
  • seeds from half a large pomegranate
  • 4 Tbs. pomegranate dressing (see below)
Pomegranate dressing (makes between 1/3 and 1/2 cup):
  • 4 Tbs. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 Tbs. minced shallot
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

In the past I didn’t care for raw fennel–I found it generally tough.  I recently discovered, however, that if you slice fennel very thin it’s not tough at all but deliciously crisp.  Now that I have a mandoline (more about it in a later post) that makes getting thin slices super easy, I’ve been eating a lot of raw fennel.  I never had the knife skills to get my fennel thin enough with just a knife, but probably a v-slicer or food processor, or perhaps even the little slicing blade on a box grater would work as well.

This salad is simple but delicious.  I can eat about 4 cups of it in a sitting.  Of course, it takes me about an hour, and I feel like a cow at pasture, but I enjoy munching on it all the way to the last bite.

Obligatory nutritional note:  raw cruciferous vegetables have amazing detoxification phytonutrients, and red cabbage is particularly high in antixoidants including vitamin A and C.  The volatile oils in fennel that give it its unique licorice-like flavor are also rich in antioxidants (and fennel also is high in vitamin C).    And we’ve all heard about the amazing antioxidants compounds in pomegranates.  Even apples (actually their skin) contain quercitins, flavonoids with powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, especially when working in combination with vitamin C. This salad should really be called death-to-oxygen-cancer-and-all-other-toxins slaw.

Update October 4th: I made this recipe again, but I used slightly different amounts, closer to what my mom described in her comment.  I only had a medium fennel bulb (8 ounces julienned), and one large (8 ounce) apple.  I used the seeds from a whole pomegranate, and one 4 ounce carrot.  I liked the salad a lot, although I wouldn’t have minded a tad more fennel and apple.  Maybe I’ll switch the recipe to call for equal amounts (10 ounces) of cabbage, fennel, and apple.  I used 4 Tbs. of dressing, and thought it was enough, although it wouldn’t have been bad with one more Tablespoon.  Since the dressing recipe makes a bit too much, if you don’t want extra dressing you might want to cut the recipe by 2/3:

  • 2 1/2 Tbs pomegranate molasses
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar (or other vinegar)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2/3 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. minced shallt
  • 1/6 tsp. salt
  • 1/6 tsp. black pepper

Derek and I both rated this version a B+, but I left the pomegranate seeds out of Derek’s, since (like my Dad), he says they hurt his teeth.  I forgot to measure, but I think the recipe made over 8 cups of salad, maybe even 12 cups.

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A month of travel

August 4, 2008 at 4:47 am (Uncategorized)

I left Montreal at the end of July, visited all three U.S. coasts, then finally arrived in Germany a few days ago. In my month of travels I made and ate lots of tasty food:

  • I had my first all-raw meal, at Pure Food and Wine, in NYC, with my friend Alekz.
  • I made lots of Thai food with my mom: we experimented with lots of Thai curries, a thai satay peanut sauce, and a marvelous Thai chili paste that was great on zucchini and tofu
  • My mom and I also tried our hand at veggie sushi, with brown rice, and a wasabi “mayo”
  • My mom and I made (twice) the most recent recipe in our food club: a zucchini, onion, tomato gratin from Cook’s Illustrated
  • My mom showed my sister and I how to make flour tortillas from scratch
  • Alekz and I made another batch of Thai lime and chili peanut butter cookies, and also attempted a vegan version, with some advice from my mom
  • My friend Amira bought a huge box of peaches from the “Old Man Retirement Project” farm, near Sacramento. We attacked the box of peaches and made peach chutney, pickled peaches, peach jam, peach tea, and peach butter. I added peaches to pico de gallo, and cheekily dubbed it “peacho de gallo.” Amira’s husband Jack made us peach pie, and Amira made a tasty salad with peaches. Probably my absolute favorite peach concoction, however, I created from the the delicious, extremely fresh trail mix Amira made for our hike. I topped the trail mix with one chopped peach, a big splash of whole milk, and a dash of cinnamon. Best “cereal” ever.
  • I had a lovely meal at Cha-ya, a japanese vegetarian restaurant in the mission. Their yamagobo roll was excellent, and I enjoyed my curried noodle soup, although it could have used a tad more vegetables.
  • I got a chance to eat at Ajanta restaurant in Berkeley, and talk to the owner and cookbook writer. I asked him if there was any way to speed up his carrot halvah recipe, perhaps by using cream instead of milk. He said the carrot wouldn’t get as caramelized and it wouldn’t be as good. Sadly, there was no carrot halvah on the menu at the restaurant. The owner said it was because a) people see carrots on a dessert menu and get turned off, and b) people have had lots of sub-par carrot halvah and have low expectations. For my main dish I ordered a mixed-squash curry, with potatoes. The sauce was very good, but the zucchini and yellow squash didn’t add much. I liked the potatoes much more. We asked the owner for the recipe for the sauce, and he gave me a rough estimate of what to do. Later in the week Amira and I tried our hand at re-creating it, but using cauliflower instead of squash. It didn’t quite come out like the one in the restaurant–a bit too sweet and the spices weren’t quite right. I’m going to try it again though and post about it here.
  • My friend Amy took me to Vic’s Indian supply store in Berkeley, and I was shocked to discover that I’d never heard of about half the items on the shelves. After all these years eating Indian, I had no idea that there are so many kinds of dal I still haven’t tried.
  • At Tacubaya in Berkeley I had a very simple, fresh, and delicious bowl of mexican pinto beans with all the fixings. I also took a look at their cookbook and I’m excited to try to vegetarianize their recipe for tortilla soup. It looks very promising. I scribbled down some notes, but if anyone has the original recipe and would like to share, please send me an email!
  • Katrina made me a delicious salad with watermelon, tomato, radishes, mint, and feta, and a very tasty spread made of greek yogurt and feta and mint.
  • Together Katrina and I made beet greens, and another night bok choy. Both times we cooked them with ginger and garlic and they were impossibly good.
  • I tagged along with Katrina on a wine tour in the Napa Valley. My favorite was Sterling Vineyards. We got to taste and compare three different years of the same wine, and get a better understanding of what happens to wine as it ages.
  • Katrina and I took a tour of the Sharffenberger factory. The whole building smells delicious, the tour was really interesting, we got to try lots of samples, and we managed to snag the last two boxes of chocolate nibs in the store, as well as lots of great chocolate bars. Derek really liked the milk chocolate bar with almonds and sea salt that I brought him. He said “this is better than any chocolate I’ve had in Germany”!. My favorite was the nibby chocolate bar, both milk and dark. Now I’m reinspired to make the Sharffenberger chocolate cookies from Alice Medrich’s cookbook, that I made and loved many years ago. Unfortunately, none of my cookie sheets will fit in my oven in Germany, so I’m going to have to buy new cookie sheets or borrow someone’s kitchen with a bigger oven.
  • I returned to Gobo in the Village, but sadly I couldn’t remember which dish it was I liked so much the last time we went. If only I had written a review!
  • Once in Germany, Derek and I made a very tasty pasta salad: whole wheat pasta, mint, feta, roasted tomatoes, and broccoli prepared Cook’s Illustrated style. It was delicious.

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Marjoram, the forgotten herb

February 17, 2008 at 3:50 pm (Meyer & Romano, Uncategorized)

I don’t know how Marjoram is regarded in other parts of the world, but in the states it is sorely neglected, especially by vegetarians. On the rare occasion I actually see marjoram on a restaurant menu, it is almost always part of a meat dish.

I find marjoram to be the most floral of herbs (excluding lavender buds). It has a unique sweet, flowery, scent, with a faint whiff of citrus. Although the flavor of dried marjoram is quite strong, it somehow still retains the delicate character of the fresh herb. Marjoram’s closest relative is oregano, but it’s less savory and pungent than oregano. Marjoram is cousin to the other herbs in the Lamiaceae family: mint, basil, sage, lavender, rosemary, savory and thyme. Whereas rosemary, thyme, and sage all taste like Fall/Winter to me, and mint and basil taste like Summer, to me marjoram tastes like Spring.  Sadly, I have very few recipes that call for marjoram, but I’d like to remedy this. Read the rest of this entry »

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This was not a food week

August 25, 2007 at 4:45 pm (Uncategorized)

When I was 18 my mother, my five-year-old sister, and I flew to the pacific northwest for a vacation. We landed in Seattle, went to Pike’s market, did some sightseeing, drove up to Vancouver which we explored for a day or two, took the ferry to Victoria Island, visited the beautiful and vast Bouchard gardens, did a day trip on the San Juan islands, tried to spy orca whales, hiked to the top of Hurricane Ridge (where we did spy a bear, and my sister had her first ever chance to touch snow), and had a guided and amazingly fascinating tour of Olympic National Park, one of the few temperate rain foresst in the world. It was a great trip.

Oh, and I had just had jaw surgery and couldn’t eat anything remotely solid. I lived off Ensure, ice cream, and dehydrated soups, strained of the chunky bits. My mom felt bad going out to eat when I couldn’t partake, so for the most part she and my sister ate very simply, and mostly out of grocery stores. I joked that our biggest purchase was a gallon of spring water to take with us to the park. It was certainly our heaviest purchase! By the end of the week we had spent $100 on food for three. That’s about $1.50 per meal per person. Back home, looking over the budget, my mom commented, laconically, “This was not a food trip.” I laughed.

Many years later, when my mom took me on her much yearned for trip to China, we discovered that, due to our dearth of Chinese language skills, our lack of guidance in the restaurant department, the general injunction not to eat any fruit or vegetable that hadn’t been cooked or peeled, and the Chinese’s total unfamiliarity with the notion of vegetarianism (veganism in my mom’s case), our three week trip to China was also designated “not a food trip.”  (Wow, that was one long sentence.)
In honor of those two trips, I dub this week “not a food week.” It’s been hot, I’ve been super busy, and most importantly I never made it to the store after returning from New Hampshire. I’ve been living off the generous produce gifts from my friend Katrina’s mom’s garden. Katrina and Dani sent me home with a suitcase packed to the gills, with the zucchinis and cucumbers and herbs from Dani’s garden, baby jars of currant jam that Katrina and I made from Dani’s two currant bushes, the New Hampshire organic peanut butter and sun butter Katrina gifted me with, goodies from the King Arthur baker’s store, and my pile of purchases from the Hanover co-op (including lara bars, frontera salsa, black mission figs, and georgia peaches, all things I’ve yet to find in Montreal).

So this week I’ve not cooked much but I’ve enjoyed countless peaches and cucumbers eaten out of hand. I’ve been exploring strange sun butter combinations, on toasted tortillas with cucumber slices or sliced nectarines. I’ve been expanding on my set list of zucchini recipes. Breakfast today was sauteed zucchini tossed with penne pasta and pesto. For dinner, desperate for more protein, I sauteed up some zucchini and onion, then added 1/2 cup of canned roman beans, a handful of chopped parsley (also from the garden), and a few spoons of Frontera Grill green salsa. I was worried the combination was going to be odd and unappetizing, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t the most exciting dinner in the world, but fresh parsley is always tasty, and it was good to have beans again.

Tomorrow I plan to go shopping, which is good since I’ve finished off the last of the fruit and cucumbers. Still, I’m impressed at how long the parsley and basil have lasted in the fridge, completely unblemished, and the zucchini and cucumbers I just left on the kitchen table, following Dani’s lead. Fresh picked produce is world’s apart from the week (or more) old produce shipped from California that you find at the grocery store.  I’m going to check out the new organic farmer’s market in Outrement tomorrow, but still, I’m sad that Dani’s vegetables are all gone. If any gardeners in Montreal are reading this blog, and have more zucchini or tomatoes or cuks than you know what to do with, just give me a holler and I’ll come relieve you of your burden!

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Sharpen those knives!

April 30, 2007 at 7:44 pm (Uncategorized)

I know this isn’t exactly a recipe, but I haven’t really been doing much cooking lately. My excuse? I just moved to another country and neither my kitchen equipment nor my cookbooks have arrived yet, nor have I managed to figure out where to shop for fresh organic produce.

So in the absence of a new recipe, I wanted to rave about Northwestern Cutlery in Chicago. I must confess that although I have both a sharpening stone and a diamond steel, I rarely use either one, mostly because I have never learned how to use them properly. In addition, sadly, there was no place to get knives professionally sharpened in Pittsburgh. As a result, my knives have been getting more dull and dangerous every year. In my short sojourn in Chicago I finally had a chance to remedy their edges.

I called around. Sur la Table was having a sale–get two knives for free and then each one after was about a dollar I think. But they said they used an electric sharpener and you had to leave the knives for 24 hours. Then I called Northwestern Cutlery–they have real (enormous) sharpening stones, and they’ll sharpen your knives why you wait, for not much more than Sur la Table. I coerced Derek into driving me downtown. It took the white-aproned guy about five minutes and he did a fabulous job. If I had time I would have gotten himto show me how to use my steel properly…next time. Also Northwestern Cutlery has a parking lot, which is convenient since it can be hard to park in the Fulton market district during the day. Finally, they’re around the corner from Sushi Wabi, so go get your knives sharpened then have an early healthy dinner of delicious avocado and shiitake rolls, and maybe some grilled asparagus with a miso sauce.

I have some time, but anyone know where to get knives sharpened in Montreal?

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