The Ultimate Gift For The Vegan In Your Life

It’s that time of year again and I decided to throw out a few gift ideas for you. Today, I’m giving you the cookbook list for the Vegan in your life.

It can often be amazing and perplexing as to how people feel about other people’s eating habits. If you have a Vegan in the family, or in your circle of friends, you know they often feel a little left out when the carnivores get together.

Show your love by letting them know that you “get” what they are about.

And maybe even try out a few recipes yourself! Often times a great Vegan recipe makes a great side dish for a carnivorous meal!

Most of my choices here are cookbooks that I either have, or lust after in the bookstore.

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** All of these book links go back to Amazon – and a purchase supports the site! **

Making Sweet Potato Roti


Because I’m housesitting I have access to a kitchen. One that I am comfortable using and working in. It was a few weeks ago when I surfed past a recipe for the Indian flat bread called Sweet Potato Roti. I love yams and sweet potatoes and the recipe looked easy.

Today I gave it a whirl.

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This was a small test recipe because I had never made Roti before and also because I was using gluten free flour. One never knows how things are going to turn out the first time, especially when using a substitute flour!

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Sweet Potato Roti

1/2 cup mashed boiled or steamed yams
1/2 cup gluten free mix of (mostly) Bob’s Red Mill Baking Flour (mostly garbanzo bean flour) and just a little of TJ’s gluten free flour (mostly rice flour), or the flour of your choice.

While the yams are still warm mash them and mix them with the flour.
Flour your board.
Create three equal balls of dough.
Press them into tortilla/flat bread like rounds.
Cooking one at a time, drop the roti into a skillet and let it brown on one side.
Flip and let it brown on the other side.
Bubbles may appear – this is a good.

Stack your roti.

Use like a soft tortilla for eating a curry. I made a litle pot of curried black beans and drizzled plain yogurt over the top.

The texture was perfect for using it like a tortilla. I am curious how this recipe might work with substituting half the flour for corn meal.

You can also season the roti. I added a little cardamom to mine, but you could add any of the Indian spices, like curry, to the dough.


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On Becoming A Plant-Based-Eater

After spending a lifetime working towards becoming primarily a plant-eater I can honestly say that I’ve learned a thing or two.

My Story

Being raised as a carnivore, but always wanting to be a vegetarian, meant that my vegetarian ways could not begin until I was about eighteen. Once I left home and no longer had to eat what was put in front of me, I realized that I could choose how I ate. And so I did.

Back then there were not many guides to the vegetarian lifestyle, but my first cookbook was Anna Thomas’ The Vegetarian Epicure. With this one, I learned how to bake bread, make quiches, and do things with a cabbage I would have never thought of myself. I still reference its pie crust recipe to this day. Laurel’s Kitchen and The Moosewood Cookbook also made it onto my cookbook shelf and taught me how to make a hearty Black Bean Soup, cauliflower and potato crusts for quiches, and still my all time favorite dessert, Carrot Cake.

There is one warning I do have to give about the above cookbooks – if you follow the recipes to the word, and you make lunch and dinner from them every day, you will gain weight. Since these books were published, much has been learned about calories, using fats (like butter or olive oils) when we cook, food portions, and timing of meals.

Over the following years, in my twenties and thirties, it wasn’t easy to stick with a vegetarian lifestyle.

Continue reading “On Becoming A Plant-Based-Eater”

Out Of The Archives:
Fried Rice kimba Style


Aisian cooking is not my strength in the kitchen. My timing is often off. And when it comes to seasonings … even when I use a recipe my Asian style dishes never quite have the right balance of flavors.

Besides, it’s much more fun to go out for Chinese or other kinds of Asian food, isn’t it? :)

Recently I decided to change this. I realized, as with everything I do, that I had started my efforts too big, too complicated. I should learn Asian style cooking by starting at the beginning – by perfecting my ability to make Fried Rice – and even though Fried Rice is not a festive dish it seemed like a good dish with which to start my adventure.

Stop laughing. Fried Rice isn’t all that easy to get right. It takes a bit of balance too, but at least it’s not a spicy dish, so the big deal is getting the balance of vegetables right – and the egg trick. More about that later.

Cooking Asian food at home is completely different from cooking European food at home. Asian cooking demands my attention. From beginning to end – chopping to eating – the process of getting a dish on the table is intensive. Not so much labor intensive as it is attention span intensive. Paying attention to what I’m doing is half the process. One of the best ways to see this in action is to eat out in any of the Asian restaurants, preferably one that has an open kitchen and an open table or spot at the counter. Watching a professional make Asian food is one of the best ways to learn – it’s half the battle.

A few days ago I finally perfected my Fried Rice recipe. I’ve made this combination of vegetables, egg, and roasted peanuts a few times now with various kinds of rice, and even quinoa, and it works. Here’s the recipe:

Fried Rice kimba Style

You don’t need to have a wok to make Fried Rice. A large skillet will do, non-stick is preferable.

Also, you can’t be heavy handed when stirring this dish in the pan, otherwise it will all mash together. Think of stir frying this dish like flipping pancakes. Dig in and flip.

About 3 cups of plain white cooked rice, or whatever kind you like. I was out of plain white rice when I made the batch in the photo above, so I used 3/4 cup short-grained brown rice and 1/4 cup wild rice.
1/2 a medium onion (give or take)
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1/2 bell pepper (give or take), which ever color you prefer
1/2 a cup of frozen peas (give or take)
1 or 2 eggs
A handful of dry roasted peanuts
peanut oil or if you don’t have it handy, olive oil will do
ground black pepper to taste
a clove or two of garlic
soy sauce

If you don’t have any leftover rice, make a fresh batch according to the directions for the particular rice you are using.

Chopping the Vegetables:
My rule of thumb for chopping the vegetables is to cut them into cubes, or cube like, and make them all a uniform size. I tend to cut them so that they are about the same size as the peas.
Finely chop the garlic.

The Egg Trick:
Heat some oil in the skillet or wok.
Scramble the egg/s.
Fry the eggs, chopping them up in small pieces.
When they are done, put them on a plate and set them to the side, somewhere handy.

The trick is that they are made separate from the vegetables. If you make the eggs in the pan with the vegetables, or with the vegetables and rice, it gets all gloopy.

Saute the Vegetables:
Put a little oil in the skillet or wok over a medium flame.
Add some ground black pepper.
Add the vegetables according to how long it takes for them to cook.
Add the onions, carrots, peppers, and celery.
Add some soy sauce, to taste.
Stir fry those for awhile.
Add the finely chopped garlic.
Add the frozen peas.
Stir fry for a bit, until they are warm all the way through.
Then add the scrambled egg, mix completely.
Add the rice, as much as you like.
Stir to mix it all up.
Add the dry roasted peanuts.
Stir again until it is mixed.
Add some more soy sauce if you think it needs it.

Note on Meat: If you want to add morsels of meat, add those to the skillet or wok prior to the first batch of vegetables.

Note on Vegetables: Fried Rice is a leftover dish, usually made with leftover rice and whatever vegetables that are in your refrigerator. Don’t hesitate to experiment!