back to the garden

a year of greener thinking


Burger and Fries, Vegan-style

Today was my first attempt at a recipe from that titan of vegan cookbooks, Veganomicon.
The book, written by the creators of the blog Post Punk Kitchen, is a serious treasure trove of vegan recipes and, best of all, doesn’t heavily rely on soy “meat” and “cheese” products.

I was a little intimidated after hefting it up the stairs to my apartment (it’s heavy! Think Joy of Cooking girth), but was happy to discover dozens of recipes I can’t wait to try. Veganomicon‘s portobello burgers were first on my list and were they ever worth it. Pair these savory portobello burgers with crispy fries* and even the most dedicated carnivore won’t turn one down (take it from someone who used to have trouble passing the Dupont Circle Five Guys).

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Pasta Puttanesca

I just realized that I officially kicked off Lent with pasta puttanesca, the pasta of “streetwalkers,” as the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook calls it. Legend has it these Italian ladies of the night would cook up steaming plates of pasta puttanesca to lure customers in off the street. Fortunately, if you don’t add asiago, this savory and spicy dish also could be the pasta of vegan streetwalkers (or even law students) and is a great choice for chilly Chicago nights. It makes fantastic leftovers (just make sure you add a bit of olive oil to the noodles so they don’t dry out), so you can enjoy it all week.  Buon appetito!

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(Mostly) vegan for Lent

Fat Tuesday has ended, and I haven’t even had a hurricane. That tragic error aside, I did manage to get in some last-minute junk food from the law school cafe when I remembered Ash Wednesday was looming and a friend and I had planned to go mostly vegan for Lent. We’re not very hardcore, since we’re both giving ourselves vacation exceptions (I’m not quite dedicated enough to abstain from seafood in Florida, and Teresa doesn’t think vegan in Vegas has a very good ring to it).

Tonight, I’m planning to make a childhood favorite that also happens to be vegan: pasta puttanesca. I’ll be sure to post the recipe! In the meantime, you can check out Teresa’s blog at  The Daily Mango and my friend Maya, who is going vegan for Lent in Austin, Texas,  at Dessert is in a Different Pocket.

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Bringing In the Darlings

Photo courtesy of

Josh Ritter just released a six-track EP, Bringing in the Darlings, TODAY (Fat Tuesday). This is really exciting if, like me, you sit around waiting for Josh Ritter to release new music.

If you purchase the album at your local record store, you’ll also get a free signed poster — or, for the lazy, it’s  available on iTunes for $5.99. I can’t think of a better way to indulge before Lent.

Make sure you check out the video for the song “Love Is Making Its Way Back Home.” The video was created by hand with more than 12,000 pieces of construction paper. Obviously, Josh and I have a lot in common.


Valentine’s Day Treats: White-and-Dark-Hearted Brownies

It just wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without some sort of heart-shaped baked good. This year I made smitten kitchen‘s white-and-dark-hearted brownies. Most of you know how much I love Deb’s blog, and her brownies didn’t disappoint. Keep a careful eye on the brownies while they bake — the edges got brown very quickly in comparison to the middle of the pan, although that may have been the fault of my oven.

White-and-Dark-Hearted Brownies, from smitten kitchen

Click here for smitten kitchen’s white-and-dark-hearted brownie recipe.

Soundtrack: Carbon Leaf, How the West Was One

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Vegan Breakfast Bars

I found the recipe for these vegan breakfast bars on Pinterest, a site that I’m sort embarrassed that I like. It has nonetheless proven to be a great place to exchange, organize and store recipes.

The breakfast bars are easy to adapt (I might add a little bit of brown sugar or agave nectar, or try a different type of dried fruit next time), and they take no time at all to make. If, like me, you enjoy sleeping in as late as possible, store them in glass containers and grab one on the way out the door for a healthy, on-the-go breakfast.

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Carnivore, omnivore or herbivore?

Here’s an interesting story from The Washington Post on a growing trend: Americans’ conflicted feelings about meat consumption. Ironically, I’m posting this after a decidedly not meat-free weekend in Milwaukee.  (Maybe I’ll amend my New Year’s resolutions to include a vacation/shared foods exception?)

“Even as millions of Americans continue to gobble down gourmet burgers, dry-aged steaks, chef-driven charcuterie and bacon-wrapped everything, they’re regularly forced to consider the potential consequences of their actions. Environmentalists want us to think about the greenhouse gases that meat production creates. Humane advocates want us to consider the suffering of animals. Doctors want us to ponder the health implications. And the medical community would like us to understand the potential fallout — otherwise known as antibiotic resistance — of pumping farm animals full of drugs.”

After returning to Chicago, a friend and I went to a vegan/vegetarian Mexican restaurant, Quesadilla La Reyna del Sur, in Bucktown this week. (The “chorizo” taco is fantastic.) Back on the wagon for now . . . but still not sure I’m ready for soy-based sheep.