The milk of human kindness (is non-dairy)

I love my cafe latte. LOVE.


But whoever said the latte part has to come from cows? Cow’s milk is for baby cows! It is great for calves–rich in fat and perfect for promoting growth OF A COW. Like 500 pounds growth in a year. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in a growth formula.


The dairy industry is also unspeakably cruel, separating calves from their mothers immediately after birth. Many die. Males are “dispensable” and often killed or sent to veal crates. The mothers mourn for their babies. So we can drink their milk.

Male calf in a veal crate.

Not so long ago, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to block the use of the word “milk” in the labeling of non-dairy products like soy milk and almond milk. If NMPF wants “truth in labeling” then they can label cows milk as a lacteal secretion. Sounds yummy, yes? No.

Shakespeare is credited with the phrase “the milk of human kindness”, referring to care and compassion for others.

William Shakespeare


(Is it just me, or does the above portrait of Shakespeare look a lot like the actor Steve Weber?)

Steven Weber

From Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 5, (1605):

Lady Macbeth:
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promis’d. Yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.

For ambitious and ruthless Lady Macbeth, the milk of human kindness denoted weakness; she was afraid her husband lacked the wherewithal to muder King Duncan as the quickest way to the throne.

John Singer Sargent painting of actress Ellen Terry playing Lady Macbeth (1889).



I, however, fully approve of the milk of human kindness. And I extend it to the cows of the world by using alternate milks in my latte.


I’ve even started making my own soy milk in my handy dandy Japanese soy milk maker.


Here’s a quick video:


There are some continuity issues in the video (I put the top of the machine on backwards and then corrected it).There are dinner dishes in the sink. I couldn’t get Taste Tester Bob to try the soy milk. I will never forget the time at his friend Dave’s house when Dave was trying to get Bob to try soy milk on his bowl of cereal. Dave was basically chasing Bob around the kitchen with a carton of soy milk. Highly entertaining.

Commercially, I like Wildwood Farms soy milk, and any of the plant/nut-based milks from Califia Farms. I prefer the unsweetened and unflavored milks, but there are options if you have a sweet tooth or like a vanilla latte.

(By the way, I freaked out when I Googled “sweet tooth” and the first image was a horrible scary clown. I do not like clowns.)

Apparently this is Sweet Tooth.


Speaking of the milk of human kindness, can we stop with the scary clowns already? Real life is scary enough.

Someday, I will figure out how to make almond milk and rice milk in the soy milk maker. The directions promise that I can! Then there is the okara–the ground up soy beans left at the end of the process. Being from Georgia, I keep thinking the word is okra…


Okara can go into veggie burgers; I’ve put it in stews and sauces for a protein boost. The recipe book that came with the soy milk maker includes okara “chicken” strips, okara bread, and, the one that might be my next video–an okara facial mask!

I don’t think I will look this lovely applying my okara mask, but maybe when I’m done?

Oh, one last thing. Please don’t ask me where I get my protein.


Peace and hugs.

Cooking for Insomniacs

Presenting the last cooking video of 2016! I go through periods of not sleeping well, and sometimes one of the things I like to do in the wee hours of the morning is bake.

Muffins magically appear in the early morning hours.

I went through a particularly bad period of insomnia back in about 2003 (pre-vegan). I decided to perfect the baking of the morning bun–you know, those beautiful laminated dough twists covered in cinnamon sugar.



I went through endless recipe variations, taking my middle-of-the-night creations to work everyday. I think my co-workers enjoyed my insomnia more than I did! But baking was much healthier than taking sleeping medications. I did have a prescription, but the nurse-practictioner neglected to mention that I should take a half-dose given that at the time I was down to about 100 pounds. (Those days are LONG gone.) The one time I took a pill, it took me two days to wake up.

Size 2, smiling on the outside but really not a happy time.

At the time, I was working at Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts in the art exhibitions department. For a show we were working on at the time, artist Susan Graham installed her sculpture of sugar beds that reference insomnia. I talked to her a lot at the time about insomnia, and the sculpture haunts me still when I can’t sleep.


Lately, my insomnia nights have had me writing blog posts. But at 4:15 a.m. on December 31, 2016, I decided to cook instead of write. I am still learning how to use iMovie, so forgive the clunkiness of the video. And it was early in the morning. Apologies to amazing animal activist and vegan food writer Colleen Patrick-Goudreau for any liberties with her recipe.

Muffins from a previous early morning baking session.


Because I had been sick (I promise I washed my hands many times during the cooking), my hair looked particularly bad, thus the hat. Taste Tester Bob says I have to wear it in every video now. (Hat courtesy of the Cat Lady Box.) Not making any promises about that one!

Have a happy new year, happy baking, bon appetit, peace, and hugs.


Substitute teachers get no respect (a cooking video)

I decided to make a vegan cheesecake (“cheezcake”) a few days ago, inspired by having a big bowl of lemons and a new copy of the cookbook Vegan Under Pressure by Jill Nussinow.

When life gives you lemons, bake something! I also wanted to try doing a dessert in the Instant Pot. Problem was, I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients other than the lemons and the cashews, used as the basis for “cheeze” in vegan cheesecake. So I substituted. It mostly worked, although there was a stage where it wasn’t so pretty. Here is the video, bloopers and all! You’ll notice (or not) a wardrobe change near the end. I was in my pajamas and bathrobe by the time we actually ate the cheesecake.

Bon appetit!

Under Pressure

Actually, this isn’t going to be about David Bowie or Queen, as much as I loved Freddie Mercury. Now I have the song Under Pressure stuck in my head (see Is there a cure for earworms?Or, Help! I Need Somebody…); thank you very much. Hoisted by my own petard!

No, this is about my new pressure cooker! I finally bought an Instant Pot after reading about them on Facebook page for Instant Pot Vegan Recipes.


I first became interested after going to a holiday cooking demonstration at the Oakland offices of the PETA Foundation last year. I am not going to comment one way or the other about PETA here; this is about food! Let’s come together around the table. Or the Instant Pot.

The presenter was JL Fields, and you can follow her at JL Goes Vegan. She is funny and informative and PRACTICAL about food and vegan cooking.

But it took me a year to convince myself to buy the Instant Pot. Now that I have it, I need to make a point of using it, which means learning HOW to use it. I got the cookbook:


I am a bit afraid of pressure cookers; back in the day they were dangerous, and I had a bad experience with one. I know so many people with a mother or grandmother with a near-death pressure cooking story.



I decided to start with something easy. I am not much of a breakfast person (beyond coffee), but Bob likes to start his day with traditional Western breakfast foods. I had a day off and was avoiding my academic duties (I love writing, but sometimes…), so I made oatmeal for breakfast!

Granted, oatmeal isn’t that hard to make in any case. But the pressure cooker was calling me, it sounded quick and easy, and one benefit of pressure cooking is you set it and walk away. Oatmeal on the stove can get messy if left unattended.


In my new capacity as wannabe Vegan Food Network Star (see Can I Vegan That? (My first cooking video!), I ended up making a video of the project. I have no pride; I am in my pajamas with bed hair. Hey, it’s real life. I spend a lot of my day off in pajamas! And you might notice near the end of the video that I have sweater fuzz on my chin. That is not a chin hair! I have a habit of wearing my shabby old gray cardigan over my bathrobe on cold mornings (see Tim Gunn and Ruby Dee walk into a bar…). You might not think it’s pretty, but I think it’s warm and comforting, like a bowl of oatmeal.

The oatmeal was pretty good. In hindsight, I would have added more liquid (2-1/2 cups to 1 cup of oats instead of 2:1), and maybe cooked it at 4 minutes pressure instead of 5. But it was a learning experience, and I am more comfortable using the Instant Pot now. Heck, Bob cooked dinner in it last night. The lure of using a new gadget was stronger than his dislike of cooking!

Happy viewing! I’d love your (vegan) pressure cooking tips!


Bon appetit!

Can I Vegan That? (My first cooking video!)


I am addicted to cooking shows, especially the competition ones, but I know I’d never survive against a timeclock and a group of cutthroat competitors. For a while, I was also addicted to the show The Chew on ABC, a daytime multi-host show about food, cooking, home, entertaining.

The Chew hosts Carla Hall, Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Daphne Oz, and Clinton Kelly.

One of the recurring segments on the show, at least when I was last watching, was with Carla Hall, called Can You Blend This?

She’d take a bunch of weird leftovers, blend them together, and make her cohosts taste it. Interesting faces were made. Sometimes the answer was yes, sometimes definitely no.

As a vegetarian, I always wanted more vegetarian alternatives, or at least not to be made fun of. Then I went vegan, and I felt totally left out of the Food Network world!

My dream is to have a segment called Can I Vegan That? But I’ve never made a video before.

Here is my trial run. Clearly, I need to up the production values. A second person to hold the iPhone would be nice! Bob was taking a nap until the end; I was on my own. Until cats develop opposable thumbs, I’m without assistance. And someone (not a cat, thanks) to do hair and makeup would be even better!

Brownies, not a huge challenge, but an easy one to start off with and I happened to have the ingredients and a sweet tooth. Next up? I’m open to suggestions.

So, grab some non-GMO popcorn and turn down the lights. Here we go:

Music: Cappelletti Show by Serena Giannini
Direct Link:

The brownies really did turn out good. Moist and super fudgy, just the way brownies should be. No cakey brownies for me!

Now, what’s for dinner? I have asparagus, mushrooms, potatoes…img_9058

Bon appetit!

My first vegan holiday feast

Funny thing, when I started this blog I was really planning on it being a food and recipe blog. I do sometimes mention food and restaurants, and I wrote one post Eating Vegan in the East Bay early on. But this is the first time I am writing a post about cooking. A sign of how busy my life has become! This year will be the first time I have planned and prepared a completely vegan holiday meal for family and friends. Non-vegan family and friends, at that. It’s going to be an amazing meal (fingers crossed)!

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 1.17.45 PM
Sounds good to me.

The menu is planned and the shopping list is made.

The shopping list isn’t too bad.

I was getting frustrated searching for vegan appetizers: it seems like all any non-vegans can think of for us is hummus. Don’t get me wrong, I love hummus. But it’s become so ubiquitous that it’s not got that special holiday something about it. But then I found The Full Helping blog

The Full Helping

The Full Helping

You know that hot, gooey, bad for you, but delicious artichoke/spinach dip that became popular in the 1980s? There’s a vegan version! And I’m making it.

Vegan artichoke and spinach dip

Comfort food, mmm.

To balance out the gooey, cashew-cheesiness, of course there should be a salad. One thing I miss as a vegan is a good Caesar salad. And I found a recipe for a vegan one on another plant-based food blog, Oh She Glows, by Angela Liddon.

Oh She Glows

oh she glows

I could just eat a whole big bowl of this and be happy.


Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Caesar Salad

The main event: I wanted to do something special, not a lasagna or a something-over-rice dish. I love to watch food competition television, and on Hell’s Kitchen the contestants are always tripped up by Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington recipe. I was wondering if anyone had ever made a vegan mushroom version, and of course they have. And who knew that Pepperidge Farm puff pastry is vegan?!

Gordon Ramsay is probably about to drop an f-bomb on one of the poor “cheftestants”.
This is bad news for my waistline: it’s vegan.

Enter The Vegan Version blog. Yes, a recipe for Mushroom Wellington! And it sounds a lot easier than anything Gordon Ramsay would throw at me (literally throw, I mean).

The Vegan Version

Holiday plate worthy.

Mushroom Wellington

Gotta have some vegetables on the side, especially at a vegan feast, and after the artichoke dip I didn’t want anything heavy like green bean casserole, but green beans, yes. So it will be a simple green bean sauté with pearl onions and sliced almonds. No recipe required.

green beans

I’m always looking for a reason to get out my Jim Lahey cookbook My Bread. Its the source of the no-knead bread recipe that went viral after Mark Bittman published it in the NY Times a few years ago. Jim Lahey  is the pastry chef at Sullivan Street Bakery (2 locations, 533 W 47th Street and 236 Ninth Avenue, New York) and pizza maker supreme at pizzeria Co. (230 9th Ave., New York), which I have been to once on a pilgrimage a few years ago (pre-vegan days).

bread book


One of the guests is bringing a dessert, but I can’t make a feast without making a dessert, and no meal is complete for me without chocolate anymore, so I figure I’ll make one too. Moosewood Cooks, from the legendary Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, NY to the rescue!

Moosewood Cooks

I googled “easy vegan chocolate cake” and this is what I got: Moosewood’s Six-Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake.

Moosewood Six-Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake

And now, I have to actually go to a store, my least favorite part of the adventure that is cooking. Going to get my groceries home, put on some Christmas music (James Taylor at Christmas and Tuck Andress Hymns, Carols, and Songs About Snow are the 2 most-played at our house), and get cooking!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays!

Love and Peace to All!