Cherish life. Nourish it.

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Comfort Food, Vegan-Style

photo (11)When the weather begins to turn cooler, I get a hankering for one of my favorite late summer crops: purple hull peas.

Yes, I am a Child of the South. In case there was any doubt.

Harvested fresh, shelled just before cooking, they make a savory broth that begs for cornbread. The peas have a creamy texture.

In the same family as black-eyed peas and crowder peas, they are much more flavorful than either one. Traditionally cooked with some sort of pork, either fatback, ham, or bacon, purple hulls and their hearty pot liquor stand on their own beautifully without those inclusions.

Mature pods are tough and rather dry, and go into the compost bin. Immature pods are usually tender enough to include in the pot.

Serves 8 as a main dish

  • Enough peas to yield 2 pounds, shelled
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2T fine diced carrots
  • 3 T fine diced celery
  • 2T olive oil
  • plenty of cracked pepper (purple hulls love lots of pepper)
  • salt to taste- (2 teaspoons is about right for our family)
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1T minced fresh sage

Rinse the shelled peas and set aside to drain.

Heat the olive oil in your favorite dutch oven until it shimmers, then add the diced onions. Cook until soft and slightly browned, 10 minutes or so. Stir in the carrots and celery.

Add the peas, and enough water to cover by one inch. Bring to a boil, boil for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer and cook til tender, around 45 minutes.

Once the peas are tender, stir in the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and sage. Cook gently for another 10 minutes to incorporate seasonings.

Many southern cooks mash some of the peas to thicken the pot liquor.

Delicious on their own, or with cornbread or cooked grains of your choice.


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Chipotle Maple Yams

photo (10)These were a successful experiment using Garnet yams and Japanese sweet potatoes, maple syrup, and a delightfully addictive chipotle-and-pumpkin-seed based hot sauce from Rancho Gordo, called Felicidad Chipotle Salsa. This salsa has quite a bit of pep to it, and may be a little intense for some. Rancho Gordo also makes a mild sauce that would work well in this recipe.

Oven 450 degrees F

Serves 8 generously

4 garnet yams, peeled and cut into 1 inch segments

4 Japanese sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch segments

1/2 tsp salt

3 T Felicidad Salsa

3 T dark amber Maple Syrup

2 T pumpkin seed oil

Place all ingredients in a baking dish. Roast, uncovered, stirring a couple of times during the cooking process. Remove from oven when tender. Stir, then let rest 5 minutes before serving. Get something cool to drink, and enjoy!

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Yellow Squash, Indonesian style

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Vadouvan is a spice blend that combines Indian and French influences. Like curry powders, each blend is a little different. Many contain sugar and corn (maltodextrin), and should be avoided by those with sensitivities. Also, it’s much easier to control seasoning if a salt-free blend is used: then you can add salt to personal taste. My favorite ready made spice combination is from Williams Sonoma, and contains 11 ingredients. This spice blend is rather delicate, and some of its subtle flavors do not hold up well to prolonged, high heat cooking.

Makes a nice side for meat eaters. I had mine over leftover red quinoa.

Serves 6-8 generously

Oven 425 Degrees F


This goes together in a flash and roasts in the oven while you prep other things.

2 lb yellow squash, washed and ends trimmed, cut on the diagonal

2 cups sliced celery stalks

1/4 tsp cracked pepper

salt to taste

2 teaspoons fruity olive oil

Toss the above together and cover. Roast for 20 minutes or until squash is barely tender and celery is tender-crisp. Remove from oven and stir in:

2 T Vadouvan spice blend (widely available, I used Williams Sonoma brand)

Re-cover, and roast 5 more minutes. Remove to a serving dish and top with:

2 T minced Cilantro leaves

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What do those PLU stickers on my fruit mean?

photo (3)

PLU labels, or “Product Look Up” labels can be pesky things to remove, especially on soft skinned fruits like plums. But they do contain information you can use as you decide how to spend your hard-earned cash. And to decide what you’d like to ingest, or avoid.

Since 1990, most fruit and some vegetables, herbs, nuts, and seeds have had these coded stickers. One reason for this is to make it easier for checkout clerks to determine which of the dozen or so varieties of apple, etc., you are purchasing, therefore tracking inventory more effectively.

But look closely. There are three different types of numerical sequences:

  • 4 digit codes: these represent non organic foods, grown conventionally, in nutrient-depleted soils, sprayed with chemical (petroleum based) fertilizers.
  • 5 digit, starting with 8: This label indicates a GMO, or Genetically Modified, food. That’s a big deal, since it means that animal DNA or bacterial DNA has been spliced into the genetic structure of the plant in order to make it a teeny bit more cold tolerant, thereby marginally extending its shelf life. What it can do to human “shelf life” is a huge experiment being run on the unwitting American public. (GMO foods are not allowed in Europe). Nothing like this occurs in nature.
  • 5 digit, starts with 9: Here we have non GMO foods, raised to meet criteria set by the National Organics Standard Board.

We’ll talk more about the concerns surrounding GMO foods in future articles. For more information on pesticides and their effect on human life, bee activity, and other living creatures on our planet, see .

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Beans and Polenta Mexicana

A long day. Dinner had to be easy, but also a feast for the senses……so I reach for staples: leftover polenta, frozen black beans, tomato marmalade, chopped olives, capers, an avocado.

Here’s how it went:

photo (4)Brown the polenta and plate.

Into the pan: photo (5)go the drained beans, tomato marmalade, and chopped olives, a few capers, salt and pepper.

When warmed through, pour over the polenta, top with diced avocados, and a squeeze of lime.

photo (6)Just because the day was long doesn’t mean dinner has to be perfunctory or uninteresting.

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Two Hits, No Misses

photo (1)This Lacinato kale salad has carrots, red cabbage, broccoli, beets, ginger, and is dressed with miso, toasted sesame oil, and lemon juice.

photo (2)Chickpeas with black olives, dried apricots, red onions, & parsley all dressed with an olive oil vinaigrette with a tad of dijon mustard, marjoram, oregano, and some roasted garlic.

And I am nourished.