It’s Spring and Time for Dinner: Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes

Today at Joe Caputo & Sons they had beautiful, bright green, firm tomatoes. I thought longingly of the dish I would have made with them a couple of years back with a spicy tomato sauce and brown, bubbly cheese.

What to do? What to do? I’m really tired of making those vegan cheese sauces that are supposed to taste like cheese and don’t. Time to just focus on making something tasty.

Well, I bought one of those lovely tomatoes for myself along with a little fresh basil and some leeks, thinking I might get inspired. I hurried home with my find to see what I could concoct.

What you see is the result, and it was good! I sliced the tomato, then used my grandma’s routine for making her southern fried chicken: she dipped the chicken first in buttermilk, then in salted flour, then in buttermilk again and finally once again in flour. I used almond milk, though, and salted flaxseed instead of flour. It made a perfect crust. I dropped each piece into my little Waring Pro Fryer for 3 minutes at 375 degrees, and they came out perfectly, with a nice crispy crust.

I made a sauce by boiling one peeled potato, one carrot, one cut up leek, a tsp. of salt, a tsp. of onion powder and a good pinch of hot paprika in half a cup to one cup of water.  As soon as the potatoes were soft, I put it all (including the cooking water) into my VitaMix and whizzed it with three tablespoons of oil. I used a some almond milk to thin it as needed and adjusted the seasoning.  It came out nicely!

I drizzled the sauce over the finished tomatoes and sprinkled a little fresh basil on top. The only thing I would do differently next time is spice up the sauce a bit more.  Oh, and reduce the quantity of the sauce. That one tomato made six slices — but one potato made enough sauce for about six tomatoes!

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Buffalo Cauliflower with Avocado Cilantro Sauce

Buffalo Cauliflower with Avocado Cilantro Sauce
Buffalo Cauliflower with Avocado Cilantro Sauce

Cauliflower is considered a super-veggie these days, and that’s good because I love it in any shape or form.

This Buffalo Cauliflower made a fun, light dinner for us one evening along with salads. I put some of the Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce into the batter for the cauliflower, but it didn’t really spice it up all that much. No problem! We just dipped the cauliflower into it at the table – alternating with the Avocado Cilantro Sauce.

Avocado Cilantro Sauce Ingredients

  • Avocado, one ripe
  • Cilantro, 1-1/2 cups roughly cut (probably about a bunch once any brown stems are removed)
  • Lime, juice of 2
  • Unfiltered sugar, 1 tsp. (opt.)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 2 TB
  • Salt, 1/4 tsp.

Buffalo Cauliflower Batter Ingredients

  • Almond or Coconut Milk, 1 cup
  • Whole wheat flour or spelt flour, 3/4 – 1 cup
  • Garlic powder, 1 TB
  • Frank’s hot sauce, 1/2 cup, opt.
  • Salt, to taste


  1. First of all, most of the recipes I found didn’t involve frying. I wanted to fry my Buffalo Cauliflower because I had a new Waring Pro Deep Fryer that I wanted to try out. Since I wanted to fry the wings, I couldn’t add the Frank’s Wing Sauce after the wings were baked some and the batter sealed them. I added it into the batter that I dipped them in. It didn’t come through that strongly, but we just dipped the cauliflower directly into the Frank’s alternately with the Avocado Cilantro Sauce. It worked well for us that way, because I have people around me who are heat sensitive.
  2. I prepared the Avocado Cilantro Sauce first. I put the rough cut cilantro into the food processor and pulsed it until it was fairly fine. Then I added the seasonings and lime along with chunked avocado and pulsed a few more times. I usually leave the sugar out of recipes. Don’t need it.
  3. Set the sauce aside.
  4. Prepare the batter. I added the Frank’s Wing Sauce to the batter. It gave it a little zip but not much, really. You can skip this and just serve the sauce with the Buffalo Cauliflower. I did need to add more flour than the recipe I started with so the batter would cling well for frying. Replacing part of the flour with flaxseed would work well for this purpose also.
  5. Deep fry the florets at 375 degrees for 3 or 4 minutes.
  6. Serve with Avocado Cilantro Sauce and Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce.


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Another lentil soup! And while I was waiting…

Posted in FaceBook 4/22/15.


Lunch! I thought I might make myself a bowl of Green Lentil Curry Soup. Had my heart set on it, actually, after I bought some beautiful organic green lentils this morning. Then I decided I wanted to try making that in the crock pot, and it would be hours before it would be ready, so maybe that’s tomorrow’s lunch.

In the meantime, I made this – left to right: mini-summer squash sauteed in extra virgin olive oil with a little basil and salt – beautiful avocado on sale at Meijer’s dressed with evoo, lemon juice, salt and a touch of hot paprika – Israeli green olives, yummmm – and tempeh, sauteed with…

Well, it was supposed to have been umeboshi plum sauce. I wondered how it would taste that way – but I think it was Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce instead. They look pretty similar in the storage container, and it was definitely spicy. Tasted pretty good, tho. I might make that mistake again.

Clementines for dessert.


And here’s the Green Lentil Curry Soup:

Green Curry Lentil Soup
Green Lentil Curry Soup

And I did enjoy the soup a day later. I had some of my spelt challah with it – almost a week old, but still ok, especially dipped in the soup.

This isn’t my regular lentil soup that I make. I usually have carrots and celery in mine and add some spinach toward the end of the cooking time. Mine is also a little more spicy.

This soup is a different spice profile and uses coconut milk. I’d probably step up the spices a bit next time — although I must have liked it pretty well because I ate three large bowls!

I greatly simplified the directions. I just put it all in the crockpot and cooked it.


  • Extra virgin olive oil, 3 TB
  • Spanish onion, 1 finely diced
  • Garlic cloves, 2 finely minced
  • Thyme, fresh, 1 TB finely chopped (halve the amount if using dried)
  • Turmeric,  1-1/2 tsp. ground
  • Cardamom, 1/2 tsp. ground
  • Cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground
  • Cloves, 1/4 tsp. ground
  • Nutmeg, 1 tsp. ground
  • Hot paprika, 1/2 tsp. to taste
  • Salt, 1-1/2 tsp. to taste
  • Green lentils, dried, 1-1/2 cups
  • Water, 5-6 cups
  • Coconut milk, 1 cup full fat
  • Coconut oil, 2 TB


  1. Put all ingredients into a crockpot reserving one cup of the water, the coconut milk and the coconut oil.
  2. Turn crockpot on high and cook 8-10 hours or overnight.
  3. At some point after 5 or 6 hours, mash some of the lentils.
  4. Add the reserved water as needed depending on the thickness you prefer.
  5. Add the coconut milk during the last hour or two of cooking along with the coconut oil if you like more richness. I did not add it to mine.
  6. Check the seasoning and adjust to your taste. I would bump up most of the seasonings in this, I believe. I also squeezed a few drops of lemon into my bowl, which always brightens food.

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Waste not want not: a small contribution to sustainability

Black Chickpea Curry and Brown Rice with Asparagus in . . . Asparagus Sauce!
Black Chickpea Curry and Brown Rice with Asparagus in . . . Asparagus Sauce!

Today I was working on a post about sustainability. I got a little overwhelmed with the enormity of our problem even as I recognized how many smart, capable people are coming up with potential solutions in this area every day.

It was with my head still wrapped in thought about our environmental and social distribution issues that I went to make my lunch. I just planned on reheating some leftovers – Black Chickpea Curry that I made the other day from Anupy Singla’s The Indian Slow Cooker and a little brown and wild rice. When I opened the refrigerator, I spotted some beautiful asparagus I had just picked up. Even though it’s rainy and cold outside now, I know it’s spring when I see asparagus!

I started to cut the asparagus and realized I could only use about two-thirds of the stalk since the bottom third was too tough and stringy.  It’s really frustrating when that happens!

I recently read an article that pointed out that 40% of our food is never eaten – it is thrown away. This brought me back to my thoughts of a few moments before as I was trying to write about sustainability. I thought to myself, “What can I do with that bottom third of the stalks?”

What I decided to do was to make a quick sauce to pour over the asparagus: I cut off those asparagus ends, cooked them for a minute or two and threw them into my VitaMix with some extra virgin olive oil, salt, basil and lemon juice. 10 seconds of blending and … yum! My little lunch of leftovers was turned into something special. I’m going to do that again tonight. I might even share some.

Better yet, I felt less overwhelmed by my morning’s reading. Yes, my little contribution was miniscule in view of the task. Kind of like one vote in a country of 227,224,334 eligible to vote?? Or one drop in an ocean of water?

In a world of interdependence, though, each vote counts, each drop of water counts, and my asparagus sauce counted.  Besides, it was delicious!

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3D Printed Meat?

3D Printed Meat???
3D Printed Meat???

I picked up an announcement about 3D printed meat today. Hmmm…interesting. As a longtime vegetarian, now moving toward vegan, I’m still not sure how I feel about this.

It does sound like it has more possibilities than the type of lab-grown meat I wrote about two years ago.

Certainly the potential impact on reducing inhumane treatment of animals and on reducing environmental stress makes it a project worth pursuing.

For more, visit my blog,, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

3D Printing Helps Seniors

Published 4/16/2015 in

3D printed soft food delivers appetizing nutrition to seniors
3D printed soft food delivers appetizing nutrition to seniors

3D printing enhances quality of life for seniors


We’ve all heard them, those jokes about getting older: “You know you’re old when you and your teeth don’t sleep together.” It’s a humorous accommodation to the fact that one of the unfortunate features of aging is that bodily structures and systems deteriorate at a more rapid rate.

As anyone knows who has needed a dental implant or dental prosthetics, they are costly, as in the thousands. Medicare doesn’t cover this particular expense nor do most insurers, even dental insurers. In addition, there is usually an uncomfortable waiting period between tooth removal and implantation or development of a dental prosthesis.

That set of facts makes it exciting news that 3D printing is taking off in the dental industry. This development isn’t futuristic: it’s happening now. While at the moment, 3D print technology is focused on reducing the cost and increasing the accuracy of dental surgery through lifelike modeling, 3D printing implants and dental prostheses isn’t far behind.

Says Andrew Wheeler, a 3D print journalist of Stratasys Objet260 Dental Selection 3D Printer, showcased at the International Dental Show in Germany just last month, March 2015: “I think it’s pretty nice that we are coming to an age where you can have a crown replaced almost immediately after having it scanned with an intra-oral scanner, have the data processed on 3D software, and then have the replacement 3D printed out for you while you comfortably relax with your pin-pricked gums, numbed out face, blinding light, and crappy TV or music.”


More than 50% of women in the U.S. suffer from osteoporosis and more than 25% of men. Hip fracture is a serious and costly public health problem in this country and internationally. Fragility fractures as a function of osteoporosis are associated with an approximately doubled risk of death in the year following the fracture. The annual cost of osteoporotic fractures to the US healthcare system in 2001 was approximately US$17 billion.

3D printing offers life-saving solutions as implants into the skeletal system. Two particularly impressive stories are these, one a hip implant, the other an arm-saving shoulder implant. 3D printed knee replacements have been used with good success. Particularly exciting are the stories of 3D printed implant processes completed with stem cells.

  • 3D printed shoulder implant. Also a year ago, a hospital in the Netherlands 3D printed the first shoulder prosthetic. The expectation was that the patient would have better mobility than with a traditional shoulder implant. Prior to that surgery, only knees had been replaced through 3D printing.

In another shoulder implant story, a tumor patient’s shoulder and arm were saved from amputation with a 3D printed shoulder implant.


Degenerating teeth aren’t the only reason seniors may have difficulty eating. Sadly more than 60% of elderly people have dysphagia, difficulty swallowing. Until now this problem has been addressed with unappetizing purees.

One German company, Biozoonhas a new approach. They have created a 3D printer that manufactures beautiful, appetizing, nutritious 3D printed soft foods. Developed in 2010, the concept has been adopted in over 1,000 retirement homes in Germany. Biozoon is now working with 14 companies from 5 countries and has received money from the European Union to develop the technology and improve supply. –

Transitioning from 3D Printing to Bioprinting: life everlasting?

Does 3D printing combined with bioprinting technology promise more comfortable and productive sunset years for all of us? Or even eternal life?

Bioprinting is a technology that artificially constructs living tissue by printing layer upon layer of living cells.  It is not futuristic: it is here! In March 2015, Russian scientists unveiled a functional 3D printed thyroid.  They hope to have a functional 3D printed kidney sometime during 2018.

As we are able to print functioning body tissue, some enthusiasts envision . . . well, eternal life. In this vision, 3D and bioprint technology will print replacements for each body part that wears out. In addition, by studying exact functional replicas of body parts produced with 3D modeling, we may be able to find solutions to many of the mysteries of aging.

The Smithsonian builds on this futuristic theme with “Organs made to order.”  This idea points to a shorter term, very practical and probably less ethically laden use for 3D and bioprinting technology, though: Huffington Post explains “How 3D printing could end the deadly shortage of donor organs.

In the even shorter term, 3D and bioprinting technology may assist failing organs instead of replacing them.

We live in exciting times!

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For more, visit my blog,, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Vegan cheese: does the emperor have clothes?

Tomato, Mustard Green and Red Onion Sandwich with Vegan Cheddar Cheese
Tomato, Mustard Green and Red Onion Sandwich on Spelt Challah with Vegan Cheddar Cheese

The first time I tried to make vegan cheese, I made a dip with potato (for consistency), carrot (for color) and hefty doses of nutritional yeast and salt as well as other seasonings. The first time I had it and enjoyed it with nachos and veggies, I was pretty impressed.

I made the same thing a few short weeks later and . . . well, I was not so impressed. The novelty had worn off. It was the nutritional yeast and salt that got me. The smell of the nutritional yeast just doesn’t work with me, and it depresses my appetite. I theorized that it doesn’t work well for others either since all the recipes of that type I found used a lot of salt. Covering up taste possibly?

Next I tried the down and dirty approach to making vegan cheese. No curing, no long processes, few unfamiliar ingredients. Just a blend of cashews (for consistency), carrot (for color) and seasonings. I used the cheese for a broccoli cheddar soup I was craving.  It was pretty good and also looked good, although I might make it a little less day-glo next time by reducing the carrot a bit. I took care when I made the soup to cut way down on both the nutritional yeast and the salt the recipe called for. Like I said, I just don’t like that smell, and it turns me off the resulting food.

Next I tried a Mac ‘n’ Cheese dish. I just decided to “wing it” on this occasion. I made a sauce with cashews (consistency) and carrots (color), onions, seasonings and a very little bit of nutritional yeast. I guess that yeast gives a kind of moldy flavor — to my tastebuds good in real cheese but not so much in nutritional yeast.

Macaroni and "Cheese"
Macaroni and “Cheese”

Anyway, when the vegan cheese sauce tasted reasonable to me, I added some of my own Matboukha (Moroccan Salsa) and a bit of hot paprika to zip it up. This dish came out pretty well. My family wouldn’t have seconds, but they did eat one serving of it, which was an achievement.

Next time I’ll adjust some things to make the sauce a little “saucier”. It was thick for my taste. Not sure that it really tastes like my old Mac’n’Cheese, but it wasn’t bad. I would do it again, and when I perfect the recipe and it’s scrumptious, I’ll post it.

Most recently I tried a type of vegan cheese-making that is getting a lot of raves. It’s not hard to make, but you do have to be a little patient. I can handle that, so I ordered in what I needed to proceed with my experiments, made a 24-hour vegan soy yogurt, mixed some with the required ingredients, cured it for another couple of days, added more ingredients, cooked it, then chilled it. Of course there was nutritional yeast in it, but there were also other ingredients that I thought might mask the aroma and flavor. Most of all, I thought the curing process would work its magic and transform the whole thing into something amazing. It didn’t.

Tomato, Mustard Green & Red Onion Sandwich on Toasted Spelt Challah with Vegan Cheddar Cheese
Tomato, Mustard Green & Red Onion Sandwich on Toasted Spelt Challah with Vegan Cheddar Cheese

I have also tried a vegan mozzarella that involved a similar process. It was kind of like the first experiment with the potatoes and carrots. I was surprised and excited, probably the novelty. Once I got over that, my feelings about it were a little more reserved. It was ok if I melted it onto something (you can see it below on the cracker I used to test it), but I’m not planning to make it again in the immediate future. In other words, it didn’t blow me away. And it was impossible to convince my family to go much further with it.

Vegan Mozarella melted on a cracker to sample
Vegan Mozarella melted on a cracker to sample

I’m going to keep experimenting. I have one good book to work from, and I know of one other that I’d like to try.

I’m not convinced yet, though, that it is possible to make really delicious vegan cheeses that will pass inspection with my family and friends.  Even though my sandwich was on my favorite homemade spelt challah and I usually have a really great appetite, I wasn’t able to finish it.

Which brings me back to the caveat I always used for vegetarian cooking: no substitutions! I figured if someone was looking for a meat substitute, they weren’t going to like anything other than the real thing – and their mind just wasn’t in the right place yet for vegetarian food. I focused on making really good food and didn’t worry about it tasting like something else.

I used red bell pepper (for color) in one of my early attempts at vegan cheese that I wanted to use in a casserole. In the end I wished I had just stuck with the red bell pepper and created a mind-blowing sauce with that.

Today I read an article about lab-created milk. Where lab-created meat has no appeal whatsoever for me, I’m going to withhold judgment for awhile on that milk. It has possibilities. Vegan cheese possibilities.

For more, visit my blog,, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

3D Printed Animal Prosthetic Stories: Antidote to the News

Published 4/5/2015 in


From human to animal prosthetics

If you keep up with the news as I do, you’re likely to have moments when you feel discouraged about the human enterprise on this earth. More and more often I find myself turning off the news and looking for stories about the activities of organizations like e-NABLE.

This great volunteer organization, focused on creating 3D printed prosthetic hands for those who would otherwise not be able to afford them, is transformative in so many ways and at so many levels. It transforms the lives of recipients . . . but it also transforms the lives of makers, offering a way for them to participate directly in improving the lives of others.

Another kind of story that inspires me is about 3D printed prosthetic limbs for animals. Whether making devices for humans or animals, caring people have devoted countless hours to making the lives of our fellow creatures better.


20 stories of animals’ lives transformed through 3D printed prosthetics

There is a growing movement of innovators designing 3D prosthetics for injured animals around the world. Good people who want to “pay it forward” are everywhere, in these cases from a number of locations in the U.S. to Taiwan to Costa Rica to British Columbia.

Here are links to inspiring stories of animals whose lives changed dramatically through 3D printed prosthetics — and of the people who made those changes happen.

Any time I get discouraged, I like to read one of these stories.

And lots more! –


Good news about the impact of 3D printing on animals’ lives

Animal lovers and animal rights activists will be happy to know that 3D printing technology may replace drug testing on animals within five years by printing human stem cells.

Vet Consultants in Telemedicine suggest several applications for 3D printing in veterinary medicine including in the areas of orthopedics, vascular surgery and and radiology, oncology and implants and surgical instruments.

So the next time you want to remember that people are capable of great love and caring acts, turn off the news and revisit some of these stories about 3D printed prosthetics for animals, the people who do it and how it helps our animal friends.

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Earthy, spicy Indian food – mmm…mmm…good!

Black Chickpea Curry from The Indian Slow Cooker
Black Chickpea Curry from The Indian Slow Cooker

Do you love the earthy, spicy texture and flavor of Indian food as I do? I used to run down to my corner on Devon Ave. in Chicago for delicious Indian food any day of the week I wanted some. These days the only way I can enjoy those dishes is when they come out of my own kitchen.

Enter: The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla. I hope to provide a full review of the book in my blog at some time in the near future, but here’s a little preview: if you love Indian food, aren’t near restaurants that serve authentic dishes and are busy – get the book! It’s one of the best cookbooks I have ever owned, and I own a lot of cookbooks.  It’s not a big book, but so far everything I have made has been delicious.

Pictured above is the Black Chickpea Curry I just made for dinner last evening. I wanted more for lunch today and ran into the store for a little broccoli. They wanted a lot of money for flowerets – usually the case if they lop off more of the plant. Right next to the flowerets they had full stalks for half the price.

I got the longer stalks and cut them into smaller pieces (about the size you’d see in cooked carrot rounds). I put the cut up pieces into the microwave with the flowerets, then arranged them under the flowerets on the plate.

And rice – you know you need to cook that nowadays with a 1:6 ratio of rice to water, right? Because of the arsenic? Someday I’ll write a post about that.

The other dish I made this week that just blew me away — also from The Indian Slow Cooker – was Palak Paneer (Spinach and “Cheese”). The book has a recipe for palak, Indian cheese, a very simple cheese. For my vegan dish, I used tofu after letting it sit in a brine solution for a couple of hours.

The other change I made was to slightly reduce the peppers. I love spicy food, but others around me are spice sensitive. By reducing the more fiery seasonings by half, everyone else was able to enjoy the dishes, and I just pumped it up a little on my plate.

Here are two pictures of the Palak Paneer, one with everything thrown into the pot (there’s a pound of spinach under that blanket of veggies and seasonings), the other the finished product:

Palak Paneer (Spinach & "Cheese") - all the ingredients in the pot ready to go.
Palak Paneer (Spinach & “Cheese”) – all the ingredients in the pot ready to go.
Palak Paneer - finished product.
Palak Paneer – finished product.

omg. It was so delicious! These dishes are examples of what I love most about the book – the recipes are so easy! You would never be tempted to open a package instead of making your own food. Everything goes into the crockpot early in the day and voila! A delicious dinner pops out several hours later.

And now I’m off to experiment more with vegan cheeses from Artisan Vegan Cheese by Myoko Schinner.

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Moroccan Eggplant Salad

Moroccan Eggplant Salad

It’s amazing how much people like this salad! I used to have people tell me they had been up all night obsessing about it and drove a long way to get some.


  • Eggplant, 3 large
  • Salt, 1 TB
  • Garlic, 3-4 cloves, minced
  • Mediterranean pickles, 1-2, rough chopped
  • Red onion, 1/4 sliced
  • Cilantro, 1/2 bunch, chopped
  • Moroccan Eggplant Sauce, 1 cup (see recipe below)


  • Tomato paste, 6 oz. can
  • Lemon, juice of 1 lemon
  • Water, to 1-1/2 cups
  • Sea salt, 1/2 tsp.
  • Cumin,1 tsp.
  • Szeged hot paprika, 1 tsp.
Slice the eggplant, salt, and store in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight. This eggplant has been drained and squeezed to get ride of juices before frying.
After frying – light brown.
Finally add the other salad ingredients and toss before adding the tomato mixture.


  1. Slice and salt eggplant and refrigerate in a covered bowl overnight (quarter the eggplant lengthwise, then cut in 1/8″ slices).
  2. Thoroughly drain eggplant (you may need to repeat draining before you complete frying process) and squeeze.
  3. Deep fry until evenly brown (3 min. with eggplant no more than ½ – 1 in. deep in basket).
  4. Drain in a paper towel-lined bowl, and cool.
  5. Add fried, cooled eggplant into a bowl alternately with layers of sauce and prepared vegetables, 3-4 layers.
  6. Fold together lightly. Check seasoning, and re-season if necessary.
Moroccan Eggplant Salad . . . yummmmm.