Between Tom and I being in between homes and living out of bags like nomads since last winter and the effects that has had on my health (including being out of work), we have missed out on a lot of things. We haven’t seen or spoken to our friends, we haven’t been able to attend any events or social gatherings and we have really been feeling the effects of our isolation. I miss going to work and I desperately miss my students. We miss being around people, we miss the city and we miss the security of just having a place to call home.
In light of all these big things we are missing (even just being able to receive our mail everyday), it might seem trivial that some of the things I miss most involve food. I miss going to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I haven’t been to a restaurant in months – I so miss Sacred Chow, Curly’s Vegetarian Lunch and Candle Café. I miss my own kitchen with all my well-stocked ingredients and cooking utensils.
Not staying in any one place for very long and having to cook wherever we go, I’ve had to learn to pack light and improvise with whatever I can find. I carry my own pot and pan and my own knives, tongs and spatulas because I know they have never touched meat. I carry an arsenal of dried spices and herbs because I like big flavors in my food. When we pack, we have more bags of groceries than we do clothes and other essentials. Since last winter, I have cooked in at least 6 different kitchens, none of them my own, each with their own limitations.
And yet, in that time, I have posted more recipes here on the blog than ever before. I’ve become a master of improvisation, searching out the ingredients I need and making the best of whatever I have. Tom and I even had to improvise on our birthdays: I found a vegan frozen blueberry pie that became Tom’s 46th birthday cake and since I’m not a huge fan of dessert, Tom made me a special birthday treat by sticking candles in one of my favorite breakfasts we like to call “McVegans.”
Last year Tom and I attended the Farm Sanctuary Pignic in Central Park but this year we were on our own. Independence Day was more like Isolation Day but we still had to eat so I made all the usual holiday fixings: burgers, slaw, salad and corn on the cob. It may not have been anything spectacular like fireworks but it lit the spark in Tom’s eyes and that’s what really matters in the end. We may not know where we are going next but at least we know we are going there together. Maybe the best recipes are the ones that are made with love.
“McVegan” Breakfast Sandwich
Gimme Lean Sausage Flavor
Arnold’s Thins Whole Wheat
Tofutti Vegan Cheese Slices: American Flavor
Smart Balance Light Vegan Spread
1 tsp. olive oil or cooking spray
Heat a frying pan with some cooking spray or tsp. of olive oil. Cut Gimme Lean tube into 4 equal sections and shape into round patties. Place patties in the frying pan and cook for about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast 4 Arnold’s Thins to desired crispiness. Turn patties and top each with a slice of Tofutti cheese. Add vegan spread to the Arnold’s Thins, place patties on the Thins and enjoy!
Of course, this can be made with other types of bread or biscuits, different vegan cheeses and Earth Balance but my version is a total of only 5 Weight Watchers points per sandwich and tastes just as indulgent. It’s been a lifesaver on my diet.
Fourth of July Menu:
Easy Cheezy Burgers
Morningstar Farms Vegan Grillers
Whole Wheat Burger Buns
Daiya Cheddar Cheese
Vegan Light Mayo
1 tsp. oil or cooking spray
Heat a frying pan with cooking spray or oil. Cook vegan burgers on one side for about 4 minutes. Meanwhile toast buns to taste and slice tomatoes. Flip burgers and add tomato slices on each burger. Top with Daiya cheddar cheese (a lot if you like having the crispy cheese “skirt”). Cover the pan with foil, let cook another 2 minutes, then turn off the heat but let the cheese continue to melt. Serve burgers on the buns with fresh spinach and vegan mayo. Enjoy!
Corn on the Cob with Spicy Chile Garlic Butter
4 Fresh ears of corn
3 Tbs. Smart Balance Light Vegan Spread
1 tsp. dried chile powder
1 tsp. dried garlic powder
1 tsp. ground black pepper
Salt (if desired)
Shuck corn ears and break them in half. Place in pot, cover with cold water, cover and bring to boil. When the water is boiling, remove cover and continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Drain.
Place 3 Tbs. spread in a bowl with the spices. Put in microwave for about 20 seconds until slightly melted. Stir. Pour on corn. Chives would be a pretty addition but I didn’t have any. Enjoy!
Sweet N’ Crunchy Color Slaw
1 packet raw sugar or ½ tsp. agave nectar
1 1/4 cup(s) apple cider vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
3 cup(s) cabbage, green and red, shredded
2 bell peppers, different colors, sliced thinly
1/2 large red onion, sliced thinly
1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
In a large bowl, mix sugar, 2 tbs water, vinegar and oil. Add cabbage, bell peppers and red onions. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss. Cover and let sit for about 30 min.
You can add any other veggies you like, whatever colors you like or extra sweetener. Makes a great side dish or filling snack with virtually no WW points.
If you like your slaw creamier and aren’t worried about the calories, add ¼ cup vegan mayo to the above mixture. Enjoy!
Simple Summer Salad
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder, parsley
Chop lettuce, add celery, onions and tomatoes. I don’t make formal salad dressings. I just add Kosher or sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried (or fresh if I have) parsley to the salad. Then I pour about 3 Tbs. of balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbs. safflower oil on top and toss well. I know salad dressings are usually more oil than vinegar but again, I have to watch those calories.