Day three and a promise

Day 3 of the cleanse brings a promise from me.

I promise to post about something else as soon as:

1) This cleanse thing is over; OR

2) I have a day where I forget to take photos; OR

3) I have a day in which I eat all stuff I’ve already posted about.

But in the meanwhile, here’s the food for day 3 of the cleanse.

Breakfast: Fried O’Brien potatoes, homemade ketchup, watermelon, and V-8


Lunch: Big salad with homemade sesame dressing (mixed up sesame oil, rice vinegar, agave nectar, grated fresh ginger, wheat-free tamari, and grated garlic to taste), topped with sesame salt; fresh cherries

Salad and cherries

Snacks: Nuts, seasoned seaweed, and Oh, so much fruit. More than I can show you here, but among the bounty was more watermelon. Also, white peaches so ripe it’s making my mouth water to tell you about them. And more cherries. And so on. Plus a latte made with decaf espresso and homemade soymilk. (The soymilk maker is still in the testing phase. I’m working on it.)

peaches, watermelon, and soy latte

Dinner: Tamale pie. The plan was for chili, but I was waffling on finding a good vegan, gluten-free cornbread, and James suggested I just make some more polenta, add olives to the chili, and make tamale pie. Those of you who’ve been around a while know that James is big on suggesting yummy and time-consuming things for me to make, so I was happy to oblige with this relatively quick and easy dish.

Tamale pie

I also added some olive oil and a fair bit of garlic and nutritional yeast to the polenta before pouring it over the chili (which I dished into the baking dish with a slotted spoon so it wouldn’t be too soupy). The chili is based on the Moosewood recipe that Susan V. adapts here, but I left out the bulgur and used some olive oil in the preparation.

So there it is. There’ll be more Mom Food when this is over. I promise!

Orange-glazed tofu

Orange-glazed tofu is the first in a 21-day series of vegan dinners. Come along, if you like. I don’t promise they’ll all be great, but you’ll get to see the variety of things available!

Super-easy, tasty dinner to start the cleanse thingy. I’ve been at my mom’s for a week, and we ate out almost every day. I’m home now, and it was actually kind of nice to make this simple, healthful meal for our first dinner of the cleanse.

orange tofu

5.0 from 1 reviews
Orange-glazed tofu
Recipe type: Main dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6-7 oz. (1/2 package) firm tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces (no need to press)
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 2-4 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ½ red onion, sliced thinly on the vertical
  • 1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet.
  2. Add tofu, orange juice, agave nectar, salt, and rice vinegar. Stir gently to coat tofu with glaze, then cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until tofu begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Set tofu aside and rinse out the skillet.
  3. In the same skillet, heat remaining oil. Add onions and broccoli and cook until onion is browned and broccoli is crisp-tender. Add tofu back in; cook and stir until heated through.
  4. Serve over rice.


Brother Food: Caesar Salad

Caesar salad for slackers.

Caesar salad and slices of seedless watermelon

My two younger brothers are awesome. They were great kids, and now they’re great husbands and dads, with beautiful wives, and eleven kids between them.

Rick’s the older of the two. There was a few-year period, between when I graduated from high school and when he met his wife, when we were very close. We would stay up late at night and watch Carson and Letterman and Costas, and play our own Psychic version of Pictionary (mole-asses, hee!), and he would ask my advice on what to wear on dates. I taught him to tie a tie, and he helped me understand differential equations. Did I mention he’s a major genius? And that I really like him? I mourned some when he got married and I wasn’t his main family-hangout-friend any more, but I was young, and I’m over it. I love his wife and their eight marvelous kids, though we don’t see very much of each other.

This salad always makes me think of Rick, whose recipe was the first I ever used. It wasn’t authentic: a bottle of good store-bought Caesar dressing, a tub of shredded parmesan, some store-bought croutons, tossed with a bunch of chopped romaine. Still, I had never made a Caesar before, and it came really close to the ones I’d had in restaurants, so it’s what I did for many years.

Since then, I’ve made tons of Rick’s version. I’ve also made the real deal, with anchovies and coddled eggs and a rubbed garlic clove. Then one day, it occurred to me that egg + oil + acid (lemon juice) = mayonnaise, and I set out to make a Caesar dressing of my own that wouldn’t involve raw (or nearly raw) eggs. Nowadays, I don’t mind eating a raw egg or two now and then, but at the time, I was newly non-vegan, and I was squeamish.

Anyway, what I came up with was another one that’s decidedly not authentic, but it’s delicious, and it’s the second-most requested salad at my house. (The most requested salad is wheatberry salad, which is the kid’s current favorite of all the foods I make.)

Later, I’ll tell you a little bit about Mike, who is also way awesome. I am lucky to have two such wonderful siblings.

Caesar salad and slices of seedless watermelon

Shortcut Caesar Salad

1-2 heads romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces, washed, and dried
2-4 ounces (to taste) shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
a cup or two of homemade croutons (method follows, or use store-bought)

For the dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
1 garlic clove, crushed
Dash of salt
Plenty of freshly ground black and/or white pepper, to taste
2 flat anchovy fillets, minced, or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste

Whisk the dressing together. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve. I’m not sure I really had to tell you that part, but hey.

Homemade croutons

Cut up some bread (almost any kind) into about 2 cups of cubes. Toss with a crushed garlic clove, a dash of salt, and a good drizzle (2 tablespoons or so) of oil. Alternatively, butter the bread before cubing it. Place on a cookie sheet, with or without foil or parchment for easy cleanup, and pop into a 400°F oven (no need to preheat). Bake, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until golden brown. Let cool on the cookie sheet before using.

Figs and keeping it simple

Figs are wonderful with honey and gorgonzola, I’m sure, but I wouldn’t know. I’m too busy eating them plain.

Figs with honey and gorgonzola.

Fig and shallot pizzette with balsamic vinegar!

Fig and Shallot Pizzette with Balsamic Vinegar
Photo by Janet Hudson

Figs wrapped in prosciutto and drizzled with pomegranate syrup.

Figs roasted with just a sprinkling of feta.

Fig and walnut tart!

Fig and walnut tart
Photo by Jeremy Keith

It all sounds good, huh?

Not gonna happen in my mom’s house. This, however, is:


Maybe your mom or dad or auntie got fancy with fruit. My mom just didn’t. I don’t remember my mom ever doing anything with fruit besides cutting it, and often not even that. We just ate fruit plain. The only fruity dessert I ever remember her making was her cheesecake, which took a can of fruit pie filling on top (usually cherry; sometimes blueberry). That’s it; I may think of something else, but it will certainly be an exception to the general rule of eating fruit out of hand, without doing anything to it. Oh, my dad ate salt on his watermelon; does that count?

Anyway, figs are a special favorite of my mom’s, and mine, too. I cried when my Aunt Edie cut down her fig tree, because the free figs were going away. And to this day, they’re an extra-special treat for me, especially since James doesn’t even consider them food, so they’re mine-all-mine.

Plain. No embellishments. Because that’s the folkway of my people.

Hoagies, a.k.a. Grinders

Mom knows when you are putting the wrong things on sandwiches. Don’t ask me how she knows, but she does.

These phone conversations I have with my mom, as I’m trying to get her recipes down on paper, are sometimes kinda funny.

Me: “Momma, what did you put on hoagies*?”


Mom: “Oh, gosh, Italian dry salami, some ham.”

Me: “Provolone, right?”

Mom: “Oh, yeah, gotta be provolone! Reallllllly thinly sliced onion — it should be paper-thin. Thin-sliced tomatoes, too, and shredded lettuce. And of course olive oil. And a little basil.”

Me: “Don’t you mean oregano?”

Mom: “Oh, yes, oregano. Right.”

Me: “And mayo?”

Mom: “NO! You don’t put mayo on a hoagie! Mayo goes on sub sandwiches, but no self-respecting hoagie has mayo.”

Me: *silently rolls eyes*

Mom, laughing: “And don’t think I don’t know you just rolled your eyes at me.”


So there you have it. Soft Italian bread is best. I put mayo, but then it’s Clearly Wrong. Usually, we go with one long sandwich for everyone, but I had shopping fail, so this time, they were individual sandwich rolls. The slight dusting of dried oregano is what puts it firmly into Mom Food territory for me, because I’ve not had that since we left Philly when I was 7, unless my mom made it for me, and the oregano is a totally unique taste on a sandwich.

Try it. And use good olive oil, please, or my mom will know you didn’t.

* I was born in Connecticut, where these sandwiches were called “grinders”, but we lived for a while in Philadelphia, where much of my family still lives, and where they call them “hoagies”. Here in California, I mostly hear “subs” or “sub sandwiches”.