Vegan MoFo

Vegan MoFo Day 31: Nothing I say here won’t sound cheesy

Or noochy, if you’ll forgive the terrible joke. “MoFo was the friends we made along the way” just makes me think of The Good Place. Everything else is a giant cliche? Not that I’m above a cliche.

Anyway, for today, the last day of Vegan MoFo 2019, we’re to reflect and maybe take inspiration from another MoFo’er. I have loved following everyone’s creative contributions over on the ‘gram and in the blogs. Some folks’ commitment to a theme was wildly impressive indeed (Star Wars puns? Dishes found in Adventure Time? Dang), and everyone made at least one thing that’s going to stick in my mind as something I need to revisit and try sometime.

But for today…I attempted something that will never live up to its inspiration, but was nonetheless worth a try: biscuits. Specifically, the biscuits Sarra makes with the obvious skill of someone who’s been making biscuits for a while. So flaky! So much rise! So many reasons to keep a watchful eye on her Instagram for any announcements concerning a biscuit zine she may be writing right now!

Mine, though…

Above: Eh, serviceable. A little flat. Probably a smidge overbaked. Too much salt??

Well, anyway, they worked well enough as the starchy component for a pretty simple dinner: smoky baked tofu, garlic braised kale, and a warm and tangy tomato relish.

Above: Din-din.

Oh, the sauce? The sauce was good. That is a thing I am good at. It’s not a recipe, though. Just, like… half a big red onion, sliced into quarter moons and fried in a bunch of olive oil for a few minutes before adding several (four?) dry-farmed tomatoes, which I’d cut into wedges. That cooked down with a little salt, a spoonful of brown sugar, and, later on, red pepper flakes. After letting the liquid cook down (tomatoes release a LOT of liquid), I left it on low and added some hot sauce and several spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar. Just keep tasting and going with your gut, really. It’s quite good, I think.

Anyway, I don’t usually bother with the blog posting, though I might sometimes when I have more to say than what fits on an Instagram post. Follow me over there if you want to keep up. I’ll follow back most of the time (unless you’re obviously just selling something/content aggregating, or post mostly weird diet shit, or are a private account of someone I don’t know at all). See you for Vegan MoFo 2020!

Vegan MoFo

Vegan MoFo Day 15: RAAAAGE!

Today we’re supposed to be inspired by a cartoon. I don’t fall in love with animation often, but I do recommend the oddly satisfying Aggretsuko on Netflix: Sanrio-produced cute animal-people work in a dreary Tokyo office, where our heroine Retsuko dreams of finding love and deals with stress by secretly performing death metal karaoke.

In the latest season, Retsuko has a new coworker, fresh out of college and an utter pill, whose only redeeming quality is he’s an amazing cook. He’s enlisted to help their office organize a booth for the obligatory “family fun” day at their company, and the crowd delights in his skill–especially with the detail of adding sausage pieces cut to look like octopus.

How could I not be inspired by that? The trick was figuring out what to use for the octopus. I don’t think vegan sausage would fan out like that when cut–and I couldn’t figure out exactly how those processed little sausages were seasoned, anyway (smoke, salt, and…???). My first thought was carving carrots–but that was a failure. Then it came to me: scallions. I kept the white part in tact with its bulbous end, then used kitchen shears to split the green ends a little. Put it in water so they’d spread and curl a bit, like tentacles, then seared so they are actually edible. Tasty, even.

Above: Octopus-cut scallions hit the pan.

The rest of the dish was far more straightforward. I went with a fairly straightforward technique for stir-fries and fried rice and cooked each component separately so it could be added to the starch and sauce at the end.

Above: Tree oyster mushrooms, golden brown.

Though it made sense to combine some components that worked well to saute together.

Above: Onion, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, cabbage, and carrot, cooking together.

The noodles are far more processed than I’d normally choose–and god help me if any of the additives aren’t actually vegan; I did not google–but they were fun to work with for once.

Above: Fresh noodles in the package. Didn’t come with sauce, ’cause the sauces were definitely not vegan.

I cooked each serving separately, according to package directions. This was super fast and easy. I made a yakisoba sauce (1/4 recipe) to season everything as it came together.

Above: Is there a sight better than noodles?

Once the noodles were loose and seasoned, I added in the cooked veggies–cabbage mixture, mushrooms–and a bit of chopped scallion greens. Wouldn’t want the rest of the octopi to go to waste!

Above: The final countdown…to dinner.

To serve, it went in a bowl with some pan-fried tofu wedges and a seared scallion octopus. And it’s every bit as tasty as I would imagine.

Above: Delicious!
Vegan MoFo

Vegan MoFo Day 7: Quiche

DOWN WITH SOGGY BOTTOMS! Okay, so the thing is, I don’t do pie crusts often, and I generally prefer the simplicity of a crumbled tofu frittata, but for this, that simply won’t do.

Remember the galette from pastry day? Well, I made a double crust recipe, so conveniently, I had an extra just for this. But this time, I got to do a BLIND BAKE. Which does not feel like a very apt description for what it does–you get to see how it’s baking up before you fill it; it’s more information than you get when making something where you need to fill an unbaked shell! But I digress. I rolled it, I put it in a pie plate, I forked the edges, I blind baked it, and I filled it with a blended tofu/sauteed spinach filling.

Above: Par-baked crust filled with creamy tofu-spinach quiche filling, ready to bake.

Before making this, I went through a lot of vegan quiche recipes. Some use chickpea flour; some use tofu (usually soft or silken). This was tofu (firm), blended with oat milk and some flavoring elements (nooch, mustard, nutmeg, red pepper flakes) until creamy, then folded with sauteed spinach, onion, and garlic. Pretty basic.

Above: Ooh, that looks nice.

You wouldn’t fool any egg eaters, but it had a pretty good texture and a nice finish. I might’ve bothered with fancy vegan cheese if I had any lying around, but I didn’t, and nooch is perfectly good for my purposes.

Above: One slice of quiche, two of tomato.

Um, also, it’s summer and tomatoes are awesome.

How about that crust? Well… I served mine too soon after it came out of the oven, so it didn’t release cleanly, but even later slices would not likely pass Paul Hollywood muster. They weren’t soggy, per se, but they weren’t golden and crisp, either.

Above: Crumbled crust!
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#VeganMoFo Day 31: SpooOoOOooOOoOoky Baked Jack-o’-Lantern

I don’t really DO Halloween, but I had a notion on how to zhush up something I like to make so it’s Halloween-y: I baked a whole red kabocha squash (which has a tasty tender skin you can eat, but looks suitably pumpkin-esque) with the guts scooped out a small hole in the top, then filled it with black forbidden rice and carved out a jack-o’-lantern face.

The rice was cooked with â…“ coconut milk along with water, cinnamon sticks, a bay leaf, and a pinch of salt, so it smelled sweet and spicy and tasted almost as good. Stuffed in a baked squash, I could slice it up for a beautiful plate of black rice and orange squash. This isn’t a meal on its own, though, not really: to go with the squash and rice, I went with a Thai inspiration and made tofu paht prik king, a nice simple stir-fry with red curry paste and green beans. Yum.

(If I’d had a slightly bigger squash and bought or made green curry paste instead, I’d have put the curry in the bottom of the squash so it’d leak out of the jack-o’-lantern mouth like vomit. I KNOW, ADORABLE. BUT ONLY ON HALLOWEEN.)

And that’s it for VeganMoFo. *sniff* If you like what I’ve been doing here, follow me on Instagram or subscribe to my weekly weirdo newsletter. I don’t know how often I’ll keep blogging like this, but I’ll definitely keep cooking. Hope you do, too.

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#VeganMoFo Day 24: What Is A “Hors-e D’uv…ruh”?

ALTERNATE TITLE: Ain’t No Party Like A Brown Rice Sushi Party ‘Cause A Brown Rice Sushi Party Is…Healthy?

Folks, I am not a party person. Making a million tiny things for dozens of well-clad individuals engaging in small talk and enjoying cocktails? I DO NOT DO THIS. I host approximately one dinner a year–Thanksgiving–and attendees are mostly family members who enjoy cooking, so half our time is spent simply cooking our brains out, for fun, then eating it until we realize we planned and prepped at least one too many things. And few of these things are finger foods. So much work for something you’re just gonna pop in your mouth! Psssh!

Arguably things like fresh rolls and sushi are this kind of food, though, and I’m no stranger to making them. You can create a whole meal around it! Perhaps that is beside the point, but I gotta justify my food resources somehow!

I usually make brown rice sushi because, well, I always have short grain brown rice on hand, but not so much white sushi rice. It’s more filling and healthy, anyway. Today I made four rolls:

  • Artichoke heart + avocado + cashew
  • Avocado + roasted trumpet mushroom + carrot + black sesame seeds
  • Baked tofu + beets + microgreens
  • Roasted trumpet mushroom + tofu + avocado

My sushi technique is…not perfect, but it’s still a solid finger food. For a party of one. (OK, two, but I appreciate your pity.)

I’m also coming down with a cold, so miso soup was a necessity.

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#VeganMoFo Day 17: A Little Goes A Long Way (In This Case, 2 TB of Mirin Goes Halfway to Japan)

I generally don’t drink. I don’t care for beer, hate wine, and am disinclined to mix my own drinks or frequent bars. It’s just not my thing. I do keep a couple bottles of inexpensive wine, sherry, and – aha – mirin just for cooking, though. So today let’s talk about mirin!

It’s a sweet rice wine. I don’t believe it’s commonly used as a beverage, certainly not in the form sold in most US supermarkets, but it is a pretty common ingredient in sauces and marinades that take some cues from Japanese cooking.

Today I used it to make a teriyaki sauce, where it lends its characteristic sharp sweetness to the saltiness of soy sauce and bright, punchy fresh ginger and garlic. Well, OK, and there’s actual sugar in there, too, but whatever. Plain sugar in teriyaki sauce would not be the same!

The teriyaki sauce became the base for some baked tofu, of course, but that’s not all! I spooned a little into a pan with a little water, rice vinegar, and 1” pieces of kabocha squash and let it simmer. I mixed a few more spoonfuls with some ground-up black sesame seeds to make a thick, tangy paste to stir into steamed chopped kale. This trio of mirin-tinged delights found themselves in a bowl with short-grain brown rice, avocado, scallion, and more black sesame seeds for a delightful teriyaki bowl dinner. Mmmm, mmmm.

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#VeganMoFo Day 13: I Want to Help People Eat More Plants

For a while now, I’ve fiddled with the notion of offering my time and energy–for money, of course–to help people go vegan or at least incorporate more vegan food in their diet. Some people are intimidated by cooking; others by vegetable prep. Some simply don’t know where to begin or how to put the pieces together. I’m no dietitian or experienced chef, but I have been cooking since I was a kid, and I spend time every single day thinking about, making, and eating food. I love helping people, and some of my friends already ask me for cooking advice. Why not expand on that and see if it’s a way to make some cash?

Well, I’m not there yet. Though I did start a (free) mailing list/newsletter where I field cooking questions. It’s small for now. If you’re interested, I’d love to have you in the audience. Subscribe at Eat More Plants @

For the purposes of today’s prompt, however, I took a slightly different tack on the “eat more plants” business model and created a meal kit out of one of my go-to meals. Now, I’ve never actually gotten a meal kit–what’s the fun in that? Menu-planning and grocery shopping are basically my hobbies–but I can make up a recipe card. Why not? It’s an excuse to do a bunch of weird photo-editing and layout work, both of which I’m EXTREMELY RUSTY at. (And by “rusty,” I mean it was something I fiddled with in high school, which was almost 20 years ago. Some things have changed.)

Since I can’t actually make you a meal kit, I gotta tell you what to get so you can follow the instructions!

You will need:

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • salt
  • 1 package of tofu
  • soy sauce
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • tahini
  • hot sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • nutritional yeast
  • water


  • Saucepan with lid or rice cooker
  • Saute pan or skillet with lid
  • Baking dish
  • Citrus reamer (or another way to strain out lemon seeds)
  • Dressing shaker or a cup/small bowl and a whisk
  • Measuring cups
  • Spatula
  • Spoon or rice paddle
  • Tongs
  • Knife
  • Microplane zester or garlic press (optional, but very handy)

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#VeganMoFo Day 4: Don’t Order Me a “Vegan” Option, I’ll Go Ahead And Brown-Bag It

Ugghhh…the dreaded veggie wrap tray. Cold, moist, bland, barely edible. Crudites. The shittiest hummus you’ve ever bothered to eat. Cookies that definitely aren’t vegan but you might sneak a bite because you just want something that might taste OK, but then they taste like nothing.


I made that kind of stuff, but not so shitty that you don’t know how you’ll make it through the rest of this very long, very boring day.

First up, hummus. Instead of regular chickpea-based hummus, I went with white beans (cannellini, specifically, because it’s what I had on hand) and roasted a whole little head of garlic to throw in the blender with it. The remaining ingredients–olive oil, juice of half a lemon, tahini, salt and pepper–are pretty basic, because I really wanted that sweet, roasted garlic to sing. Served with fresh veggies for color and crunch. Easy-peasy.

Next, the veggie wrap. No mere crudites wrapped in a fucking tortilla, no sir. I started with baked tofu, seasoned simply with soy sauce and a dash of liquid smoke. Then I whipped up a quick massaged lacinato kale salad with a thick, creamy dressing made with herbed cashew cheese, nooch, more nuts, and red wine vinegar. I also wanted avocado, but I didn’t end up using much because they were not great when I cut into them. The big whole wheat tortillas I bought got a quick warm-up on a griddle pan before filling them with tofu and kale. Simple, but full of flavor and texture.

And you know I already had cookies from yesterday’s junk food post. Mmmm, cookies.

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#VeganMoFo Day 3: I Read an Article About Protein-Packed Vegan Foods So You Don’t Have to (But You Probably Will Anyway If That’s Your Thing)

A.K.A. I Am Not A Nutritionist, But I Know How to Google

Listen, if you’re here, you probably already know that getting your protein as a vegan, like, ain’t a problem. That shit’s in everything. It’s B12 you gotta look out for, but let’s not get into that. But I went ahead and looked up some allegedly high-protein ingredients and picked a few to invent a meal out of. It’s like Chopped! But without the egos and arbitrary time limits and referring to dead animal parts as “proteins” (noun)!

  • Tofu – 10g protein / ½ cup
  • Quinoa – 4g protein / ½ cup
  • Spinach – 5g protein / 1 cup cooked
  • Sun-dried tomatoes – 6g protein / 1 cup
  • Lentils – 18g protein / cup
  • Pepitas – 9g protein / 1 oz.

From this, I propose: Baked tofu with a sun-dried tomato and pepita pesto, garlicky sauteed spinach, and a quinoa-lentil pilaf. Oooh. That sounds pretty good. Pantry ingredients include: garlic, onion, lemon, parsley, olive oil. I WILL NOT BE UNDERSEASONED. DON’T BORE NINA. (Wait. That last one is a different show.)


Pesto: Throw all of this in a food processor and make a paste.

  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, patted dry
  • â…” cup pepitas, toasted
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Small handful of parsley, torn
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste

Smear half the pesto in the bottom of a baking dish, spray with olive oil, add tofu slices to fit, then spray with more olive oil and cover with the rest of the pesto. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes on each side (I used my toaster oven).

Pilaf: Saute the onion in olive oil, add bouillon, then add washed lentils and quinoa until a bit toasty. Transfer to multicooker, add 3 cups of water, and cook for about an hour. (I used the brown rice setting on my VitaClay.)

  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • ~1 Tbsp. vegetable bouillon
  • ¾ cup French green lentils
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt to taste

Spinach: Wilt spinach in a big pan with a little olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and minced or microplaned garlic to your heart’s content. Splash with a good vinegar of your choosing. Serve.

  • 2 bags baby spinach (12 oz. total)
  • At least 4 cloves garlic, minced or microplaned
  • Olive oil, salt, and your favorite vinegar (I used balsamic)

The result is not the most photogenic dish I’ve made, but it’s pretty tasty. It could use a sauce, though. Why didn’t I make my usual tahini sauce?!

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#VeganMoFo Day 1: Enter the Bowl

I have a hard time playing favorites. Favorite band? Favorite TV show? Favorite movie? Don’t make me choose, But food is the hardest of all. Indian food? Tacos? Thai? Vietnamese? Korean? Ethiopian? Falafel? Artisanal, creative, farm-to-table masterpieces? Bread and (cashew) cheese? Almost anything with sugar? I mean. I love food, period. Making it, eating it, thinking about it, talking about it, shopping for it, reading about it.

But if I have to choose, I choose a choice that’s trying to have it both ways–well, several ways: California-style health food. It’s a goddamn catch-all for anything involving kale, quinoa, and tofu that takes inspiration or steals liberally from all of the above. It’s my true north of home cooking. And what’s more health-foody right now than the almighty bowl? This bowl has everything: Rainbow quinoa. Braised greens and purple cabbage. Baked tofu. Roasted squash. Tahini-lemon sauce with plenty of garlic. I eat this ALL THE TIME. I will try to avoid repeating myself this month…

For the purpose of making a prettier picture, I tweaked the process a little bit. It’s usually a bit simpler.

The quinoa is just quinoa. I cook it in a VitaClay multicooker, which I love. It turns out perfect without any effort. Done.

I usually start the tofu right after I get the quinoa going because I like to bake it for 20 minutes on each side. It’s coated simply and gently in a little olive oil and soy sauce. This gives it a nice, brown, chewy skin. Typically I just cut it into four slices, which fit in a little glass baking dish in my toaster oven, so no pre-heating and easy timing, but today I cubed it and baked it in the oven since I was also cooking some squash. Cubing it, cook time was reduced to about 15 minutes on each side.

Squash isn’t a STANDARD part of this for me, but I’ll use it when I have it. Today I had the top half of a butternut squash, and for funsies, I chopped it at strange angles so it’d have interesting facets. It got a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and roasted for about 20 minutes.

Next I started on the greens. The most basic iteration of this dish is just wilted chopped kale; today I had half a red onion leftover from breakfast, a bunch of collard greens, and some nice purple cabbage, so I threw ‘em all in. The onions were thinly sliced then sauteed in olive oil, then I added a pinch of salt and a generous pour of low-sodium vegetable stock and brought it to a boil before adding the greens. I ended up having to add a little bit more broth to get it cooking (pan was pretty crowded), and also threw in a couple cloves of microplaned garlic for good measure.

Finally, the tahini sauce. I did not diverge from my usual, go-to, reliable recipe one bit: ~¼ cup of tahini (I use the Whole Foods store brand, which pours easily and doesn’t get thick and chalky if you stir it well), a few drops of our favorite hot sauce, one microplaned clove of garlic, juice of one lemon, ~2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, and water as needed. I add all this directly to an OXO dressing shaker and give it several good swings and it’s done.

The black sesame seeds I added just for looks. When you drizzle a beige sauce on your bowl, you kinda lose the colorful veggies, after all.

Happy MoFo!

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Blackened tofu, braised kale in tangy tomato sauce, and coconut quinoa

The tofu is is based on a recipe from Vegan Soul Kitchen–basically, dredged in olive oil, rubbed with spices, and pan-fried (in coconut oil, in my case). To go with, I cooked up some quinoa in the clay cooker, but took the extra step of sauteeing a shallot, bay leaf, and pinch of turmeric in coconut oil, then toasting the dry quinoa with it before adding water. It turned out nice and fluffy and gently flavored. Finally, I made a quick sauce to cook the kale in: half a big white onion, sliced into thin quarter moons, sauteed before adding a dash (maybe ¼ cup?) tomato puree, vegetable broth, apple cider vinegar, a tiny splash of liquid smoke, and two cloves of garlic (microplaned to oblivion, natch). I added some diced tomato to my plate just to jazz it up.

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Cast-iron stir fry with broccoli and tofu over brown rice

Somehow I think I’ve avoided making this particular Isa Does It recipe – even though it has a bunch of things I really like. Perhaps it was the lack of hoisin sauce of mirin in my pantry? I ended up subbing sherry for the mirin and mixing up a peanut butter-based substitute for the hoisin. The broccoli is crisp, the peanuts are salty and crunchy, and the basil adds a nice freshness.

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Anyone have any good tips or recipes on the best ways to prepare tofu? I’ve never cooked with it before so I would love any input! Thanks!

Hello, stranger on Tumblr! I saw your post while poking around the “tofu” tag and thought I’d offer my advice, as tofu prep is near and dear to my heart (and stomach).

The EASIEST, most foolproof way to prepare tofu is to slice it and bake it in a simple marinade. At its most basic, this is just olive oil and soy sauce (I don’t measure but maybe a tbsp of each). I make this directly in the baking dish, then dredge each slice on both sides and fill the pan.

You can dress it up with whatever flavors you like – different oils (sesame is an especially good choice), vinegar, hot sauce, herbs/spices, minced garlic/ginger/lemongrass/etc. or even try a bottled marinade you might like.

Usually I just bake it at 400°F for 20 minutes, then flip and bake another 20, because I like the nice crust the high temp/baking time gives it, but you can go lower. Experiment with what you like. I probably wouldn’t go lower than 350°F/15 min per side. I use my toaster oven for this because the baking dish fits perfectly, but if you’re roasting other veggies, you can throw them all in the oven.

This method requires very little oversight and little chance of smushing the tofu, getting stuck in the pan, that kind of thing.

You might also look up tofu frittata recipes – that’s basically a baked tofu scramble, and it’s super easy and delicious.

Have fun! And don’t fear the tofu. 😉

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Millet bowl with greens and toasted sunflower seeds…also, tofu

Another attempt at a Thrive Foods dish: millet with mixed greens (chard and spinach), scallions, green garlic, lemon juice, salt and red pepper, and a dash of toasted sunflower seeds. I felt it needed a little something extra, so there’s some spicy baked tofu on the side. The lemon juice and green garlic offer a nice punch.

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Tabbouli with warm quinoa, steamed kale, and crumbled almond cheese with aromatic pan fried winter squash and baked tofu