Emi's Good Eating

Be good to yourself and all fellow animals

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Beans, Greens and Pasta Soup

This is a very simple, tasty, inexpensive, nutritious and quick meal, using whatever beans, greens and pasta we may have on hand. You may use tinned beans and frozen greens, small pasta or larger sized or even rice, millet, quinoa or cous cous. Ultimately, this recipe should serve as an inspiration to explore combination of flavours, textures and foods.

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I used a jar of white French beans, fresh spinach (not the baby spinach, but the full grown leaves and stems, well rinsed) and fregola, a type of pasta from Sardegna, made with semolina and toasted in the oven. I happened to have fregola in my cupboard because I like keeping lots of different types of pasta. But any type of pasta will do (or even rice, millet, quinoa or cous cous). It should be on the smaller scale so that it will fit on a spoon, and even breaking up raw spaghetti will achieve that. 

Recipe serves four or two with plenty of leftovers for repeat dinner later in the week.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2-3 small tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 850ml jar of white French beans or two cans of whatever beans you have on hand (and keep the brine – aquafaba – because you will use it in the soup)
  • 1 cup (raw) fregola or other small pasta/rice/cous cous
  • 2 packed cups chopped leafy greens, whether spinach, kale or other green
  • one stock cube, optional
  • smoked tofu or leftover seitan, cubed, optional and quantity to taste
  • soy sauce or tamari, optional and used instead of stock cube and seitan 
  • salt, pepper, nutritional yeast and olive oil (can be oil free)

Method

Pour a glug of olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium flame. If you do not wish to use oil, then have water handy to water-sauté. 

Sauté the onions and the celery until soft (10-15 minutes). Add the garlic and let it get lightly brown.  

While sautéing, cook the pasta. Just before draining it, reserve a mugful of the pasta cooking water. It will add a nice flavour to the soup. 

When the onions and celery are soft, crumble the stock cube into the saucepan, add two cups of water, the tomatoes and mix well. Let the water come to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. If you are adding smoked tofu or have leftover seitan, add that to the saucepan now. If you have neither seitan nor stock cube, then add two tablespoons of soy sauce of tamari. These ingredients add umami to the dish alongside the tomatoes, onion and celery.

Once the tomatoes have softened significantly, add the pasta, reserved pasta cooking water, beans with brine and the greens. If you are using fresh greens, cook them only until they wilt. If you are using frozen greens, then cook them until they are thoroughly warmed. Mix well and taste for seasoning. 

When I cooked the fregola, I let it cook a bit less so that it was very al dente when I added it to the pot. The fregola continued to cook and absorb water as it married into the soup (see photo below). Any type of pasta will do that to varying degrees.  

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Serve the soup hot with liberal sprinklings of nutritional yeast and pepper. This soup keeps well. 

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The animals we love are no different from the animals we eat. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It is easier than ever and http://www.howdoigovegan.com will help you get started. 

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Napoli Soul Food: Neapolitan Minestrone

I made a large batch of minestrone earlier this week. Minestrone is a staple of cucina povera. It has existed in one form or another since Roman times. This is the Neapolitan version and it always contains a base of tomatoes and potatoes, which, despite their being fundamental today, were only introduced in the mid-16th century.

Emi's Good Eating

Minestrone is a staple of cucina povera, which literally translates to poor kitchen – peasant food. The word minestrone is the augmentative form of the word minestra or soup. It has existed in one form or another since Roman times. The Neapolitan version always contains a base of tomatoes and potatoes, which, despite their being fundamental today, were only introduced in the mid-16th century. It is a dish suitably served hot in the winter and chilled in the summer.

You can adapt this recipe to your liking. See below for a spicy, North African version.

Recipe after the photo. Serves four, with leftovers, of course.

img_5404Ingredients

  • 1 Litre passata (alternatively use equivalent in pelati or chopped tomatoes, but passata gives best texture)
  • 250-500 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 3 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 2 courgette, cubed
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 3 celery sticks, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2-3…

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Who Could Be Blind to Racism?

I have been listening to the new Tribe Called Quest album a lot. It is basically on repeat. I heard that line and it is a question I ask myself all the time. Here is my latest piece on Ecorazzi

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You can go vegan today. It is easy. All it takes is for you to make that decision. 

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Creative, Non-violent Advocacy: Identify Issues and Keep It Simple

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We are all made of stars. Sue Coe original print

Happy World Vegan Day!

The most important thing we can do to stop the relentless injustice against animals is to go vegan and make more vegans through creative, non-violent advocacy or education. But what does creative, non-violent advocacy mean?

It means engaging with people in any way we are comfortable. It might be through talking to people we know or meet during the day, through song or drawing, or making videos, tabling in our community, cooking for friends and family (and learning to cook!) or writing articles or blog pieces. It can be whatever we like that gets us out there engaging with others in a meaningful way.

Before we start advocating, it is essential that we educate ourselves and and think about how to approach answering questions and discussing veganism. 

Whenever I face answering a question about veganism or writing about any aspect of it, I do two things. First, I identify what are the issues and second, as much as possible, I keep it simple.

Identifying the issues is important because it keeps us focused on what is really at stake. Sometimes we get questions that roll many other issues into one. This is because people are overwhelmed by our rejection of something that the vast majority of the world does on a daily basis; at other times, questions that conflate issues may come from fellow vegans.

Three examples of identifying the issues come to mind, two of which I have written about for Ecorazzi before. The first is the conflation of poverty and veganism; that is, veganism as an obligation versus income inequality/poverty as ”impossibility” to going vegan. These are two separate issues and they should be addressed separately. Sure, there are relationships between these issues, but that does not mean that one negates the other.

The second example of identifying the issues is when we hear people talking about veganism as a journey. We all went vegan as a result of some experience, but veganism is not about us. “We” are not the focus of our veganism. Sure, there are aspects about veganism that are about humans, but it is not all about humans. We are not the ones losing our lives.  

The third example, is in relation to questions or discussion relating to welfare standards – the so-called humane treatment, or organic, happy, cuddly, dreamy exploitation. Any of these topics boil down to one issue: whether we have any good reason to use animals in the first place.

Ultimately, the critical point is to keep the animals as the focus of our vegan advocacy. Imagine a wheel, where the animals are the hub and all the other issues are the spokes. The spokes emanate from the hub. However, each element is simultaneously individual and interconnected.

Once we have identified the issues, keep the conversation simple, short and straightforward. We may have occasion to go deeper into the issues even within the same interaction. Often, however, we only have a small window of someone’s attention and we should capitalise on that moment.

Being educated on the issues is of paramount importance because it will give us the confidence to handle any situation. When we discuss issues that we fully understand, our voices become a very powerful tool because we are able to deliver the message in our own simple and authentic manner. We may not convince people all the time, but at the very least, we will plant the best and strongest seeds possible.

To get us started, there are two books that I always recommend. They are short, indispensable and thought provoking, and both written by Gary Francione and Anna Charlton: Eat Like You Care, which explores, in the simplest way, why we should go vegan and answers all the frequent questions about veganism (it is available in over a dozen languages); and  Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach, which explores why we need a paradigm shift in how we view nonhuman animals in society (and/or have a look at the website for a plethora of essays).  

So, let’s get reading and let’s get talking.

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In July 2016, I had the pleasure and privilege of being invited to speak on a panel about activism  at World Vegan Summit at UC Berkeley in California. The video below is from that day. You may also find all the videos for each of the speakers on that panel here.  

Read more about why you can go vegan today.

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Vegan Fish Pie With Cheesy Mashed Potato Top

Vegan fish pie with cheesy mashed potato top.

This is a perfect dish for autumn or winter Sundays.

Emi's Good Eating

Fish pies in Britain have their origins in the Christian practice of “fasting” days, particularly during Lent, when “fasting” did not necessarily mean not eating, rather it meant not eating meat. Fish was the substitute for those who could afford it. Traditional fish pies were made with rosewater, sugar, spices and wine. Thankfully, this fish pie isn’t made with any of those ingredients, other than spices!

Fish pies are generally made with a white béchamel sauce derived from the dairy milk in which the fish was poached. I did not find that poaching the tempeh/tofu combination yielded optimum results in terms of flavour and texture (the tempeh/tofu reabsorb the non-dairy milk), but I wanted to remain true to the method and that is why I now boil and infuse the non-dairy milk separately. Recipe after the photos. Serves 4.

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Ingredients

For the filling

  • 500ml non-dairy milk (soy or almond)
  • 1…

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When Size Ultimately Doesn’t Matter: Cages

In my latest piece for Ecorazzi, I take a look at the ballot initiative in Massachusetts concerning cages. If the question were “is it necessary to kill animals for humans to live happy, delicious and healthy lives”, then this would be something to get excited about. However, as a vegan and an advocate, the size of the cage ultimately does not matter when the end result is still death

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