Embracing Sitophilia

My recipes and adventures in food. Mostly vegan and vegetarian. This is just a place for me to post things I'm trying in the kitchen and share my love of cooking. Hopefully, you find some new ideas for cooking plant-based goodness. Common allergen info is included in the recipes and tags.
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Penne with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Chicken Livers

Serves: 6

Time: 1 hour


  • 1 pound penne

  • Salt & pepper

  • 1 pound chicken livers, sinew removed, rinsed & patted dry

  • 3 T. unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly

  • 8 crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced

  • ¼ tsp. Garlic powder

  • 1 tsp. Caraway seeds

  • 1 bunch asparagus, sliced into 3” lengths

  • 1 T. fresh sage, chopped

  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

  • 2/3 c. unsalted vegetable/chicken stock

  • 1/8 c. balsamic vinegar

  • ½ c. Parmesan cheese, grated

  • 1 bunch Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, roughly chopped


  1. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.

  2. Season livers with salt and pepper. Melt 2 T. of the butter over medium-high heat. Cook livers, flipping once, until golden brown and plump (about 4 minutes per side), then transfer to cutting board. Reduce heat to medium, melt remaining 1 T. of butter. Add onion and mushrooms with ¼ tsp. of salt; cook until soft (about 8 minutes). Chop livers and return to pan with garlic, caraway, sage & rosemary. Turn the burner back up to medium-high heat, add asparagus, stock & vinegar. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half & asparagus is tendercrisp, about 10 minutes.

  3. Add pasta and ½ c. pasta water. Simmer until sauce is thick enough to coat pasta, then remove from heat. Toss with cheese and parsley. If it’s too dry, add 1 T. of pasta water at a time until it’s just moist. Serve in a bowl, drizzled with fresh olive oil, more Parmesan, and a little more parsley.

    ALLERGENS: wheat, dairy, seeds

Even with the power going out, baked gnocchi prevails!

Good job, America.


Ukranian Borscht

Preparation time: 1 hour

Yield: 12 servings


  • 6 thin-skinned, but sturdy potatoes (such as Irish Red or Yukon Gold), sliced very thin

  • 6 red and/or golden beets, peeled and sliced very thin

  • 12 cups (3 quarts) water

  • 4 Tbs. Oil/Butter

  • 2 large onions, chopped

  • 2 tsp. Caraway seeds

  • 2 tsp. Salt

  • 3 stalks celery, chopped

  • 3 medium carrots, sliced

  • 1 medium head of cabbage, shredded/sliced very thin

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 T. dried dill or 3 T. fresh chopped dill (plus extra for garnish)

  • 1/8 cup cider vinegar

  • 1/8 cup honey or brown sugar

  • 2 cups tomato sauce/purée

  • Sour cream, plain yoghurt, or soy alternatives (optional topping)


-Place potatoes, beets, and water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are tender (20 to 30 minutes).

-Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, caraway, and salt. Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent (8 to 10 minutes).

-Add celery, carrots, and cabbage, plus 2 cups of the cooking water from the beets and potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer until vegetables are tender (another 8 to 10 minutes).

-Combine the onion mixture with the large pot of beets & potatoes. Add the remaining ingredients, return to a simmer, cover, and simmer for at least another 15 minutes. Taste to correct seasonings, and serve hot, topped with sour cream or yoghurt, and garnish with dill.

ALLERGENS: DAIRY, SOY (depending on if you even use them), CARAWAY SEEDS

Potato-Mushroom Chowder

Serves: 8 Time: 1 hour


  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (or any buttery vegan margarine) or butter
  • 1 medium sweet onion, halved and sliced into half-moons
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 T. black pepper
  • 6 T. all-purpose flour (you can use any flour here, it doesn’t matter, so long as it thickens liquid when heated, good news for those of you who are gluten-sensitive/allergic)
  • 8 cups unsalted broth, water, or a mix of the two
  • 4 small carrots, chopped
  • 20 baby potatoes, quartered
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 cups dried wild mushrooms, or 1 pound fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 T. red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 can no-salt-added sweet kernel corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can cannelini, navy, or other creamy white bean, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c. almond milk


In a large dutch oven/soup pot, melt the margarine/butter over medium heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper, and let cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened (about 6 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (another 3 minutes). Sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture and stir until a smooth paste forms. Keep stirring until the roux begins to cook and turn golden. Add one cup of the stock/water, and stir until thickened and smooth. Add another cup, and do the same. Then add the remaining stock/water and turn up the heat to high. Once boiling, let it boil for 1 minute, then add the vegetables, mushrooms, yeast and spices, except for the corn, beans, and almond milk. Turn down the heat, cover, and let cook at a high simmer for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked. Add the almond milk, corn, and beans, and heat through. Taste to make sure it’s seasoned enough, adding more salt and pepper, if necessary.

ALLERGY: Almond, Yeast, Wheat (if using wheat flour)

Italian Chik’n Lentil Soup

Serves: 10 Time: 45 minutes


  • 2 Tbls. Olive oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced into half-moons
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 can no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 4 quarts (16 cups) water or vegetable stock (unsalted)
  • 1 medium, or 2 small, or 1/2 large zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into wedges
  • 6 baby potatoes, any variety (or a combo of different types!), halved, then sliced width-wise into thin half-moons
  • 10 baby carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 2 c. dried mixed mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, porcini, chantrelle, etc.)
  • 2 packages chicken-style seitan, or 2 lbs. homemade seitan, sliced into strips (it will look less like actual chicken, but it will taste a lot better!)
  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed and sorted for foreign matter
  • 3 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper, ground
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. chili flake
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 Tbls. nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach


Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot/dutch oven (~6 qt.). Toss in the onions, celery, and mushrooms, add a pinch of sea salt and sauté until onions soften and mushrooms are giving off their water (about 6-8 minutes). Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, turn heat up to high. Add remaining vegetables (except for the spinach), seitan, herbs, spices, bay leaves, yeast (if using) and lentils. Bring just to a boil, then immediately cover and turn the heat down to a decent simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes, or until lentils are tender and potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and add a handful of spinach at a time, stirring to wilt in the heat of the soup. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

ALLERGY INFO: Contains Wheat/Gluten, Yeast

My girlfriend
wearing a cabbage.

Do you see why I love her so much? She can pull off all that beauty while being an absolute weirdo and balancing a cruciferous vegetables on her head.


Time: 1 hour, plus 4-7 days fermentation
Yield: approximately 5 pounds


  • 2 nappa cabbages, cut 1” thick
  • 1# carrots, diced into quarter-sized rounds
  • 2 bunches scallions (green onions), 3/4” dice
  • 3/4 c. minced ginger root (about 0.25 pound)
  • 1/3 c. sea salt (or anything non-iodized)
  • 3 T. garlic powder (or 12 garlic cloves, minced)
  • 2 T. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 c. already fermented kimchi (optional)


Prep all veggies as instructed. Mix all spices in a separate bowl for sprinkling as you go. Add 1/4 of the veggies, or a couple of handfuls at a time. Add 1/4 the spice mix and stir with your hand, mashing the cabbage slightly as you go. Repeat with another 1/4 veggies and spices, and stir/bruise with hand until everything is coated. Repeat until all the spices and veggies are added. If using, add the already-fermented kimchi, this will give a lactobacillus boost to the fermentation process.

Mash everything down real well, to allow the salt to have maximum contact with the vegetables. Fill a gallon resealable bag with salt water (1/4 tsp. salt to 1 C. water), press the extra air out of it, and lay it across the top, making sure it covers as much of the veggies as possible. Cover the top tautly with a few pieces of cheesecloth, a clean cotton dish towel, or a t-shirt, and secure with a large elastic band. This is to prevent dust and flies from getting in.

Let the mix sit in a fairly warm and dark area for 24 hours. You are looking for the salt to have pulled enough water out of the veggies to submerge everything in brine. This is IMPORTANT. Lactic fermentation is an anaerobic process (which means it happens away from air), and for it to occur properly without spoilage, all the vegetables need to be below the water level. If there isn’t sufficient liquid after 24 hours, add your own brine, using the ratio of 1/4tsp. salt to 1 C. water. Only enough to cover. Replace the bag and let sit for another 3 days. 

If you’ve added the extra kimchi to boost the fermentation, it could be done after 4 days total. Check at 4 days regardless. It’s going to smell pretty funky, but that’s good! If it’s not quite fermented enough, let it sit another day or two, up to a week or so total.


  • If you smoke indoors or burn incense, put the ferment in a room away from it, since your cloth won’t protect it from all dust. That being said, sometimes some mold spores will make their way in through the cloth and form a “bloom” on top. Don’t worry, this is completely harmless, and won’t affect the veggies as long as they’re under the brine. Just scoop it off with a spoon, and throw it away. 
  • This doesn’t have to be a sterile process, but it should be a very clean one. Make sure your fermentation crock is cleaned out with hot soap (NOT anti-bacterial), and rinsed very well. Any leftover soap residue will kill  the fermentation process.
  • Your fermentation crock should be glass or food-grade ceramic, NOT plastic. The acidity of the ferment will leech chemicals out of the plastic into your food… not good. Those iced tea pitchers are great, or if you can find a bunch of glass cookie jars like I did, those are great also.
  • Temperature will affect your ferment highly. For the best results, make sure it’s not too warm and not too cold. About 65-75°F is perfect for the timing listed above. If it’s colder, it might take a few extra days for the process to complete. And if it’s warmer, it will obviously accelerate the fermentation. 
  • This is going to stink, so find somewhere away from populated areas of your home (unless nobody minds).
  • This is a lactic ferment, not producing any alcohol.  Among the 200 bacteria isolated from kimchi, the important microorganisms in the fermentation are known to be Lactobacillus plantarum, L. Brevis, Streptococcus faecalis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, and Pediococcus pentosaceus. Most kinds of bacteria belonging to the genus Lactobacillus have been found to be present in kimchi. A good chunk of these are similar to the probiotic bacteria found in yogurt, so don’t freak out about the word “bacteria.” These are GREAT for your digestion and overall health!

Pumpkin Saag

Serves: 6
Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 T. oil (olive, canola or peanut)
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced thin
  • 3 small sweet peppers, sliced into rings
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 15oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 15oz. can pureéd pumpkin
  • 3 T. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 T. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 6oz. bag baby spinach
  • 1 brick tofu, 1/2” cubed
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped rough


Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, mushrooms and carrots and sauté until the onions are soft and the mushrooms lose some of their water (about 5 minutes). Add the coconut milk, pumpkin and spices. When the curry is beginning to bubble, add the spinach in handfuls, letting it wilt before stirring in more. When the spinach is all added, toss in the cubed tofu and stir around to coat everything in the magic. Heat tofu through (another 5 minutes or so), then add the cliantro, stir briefly and serve.

Allergy: Coconut, Soy

So, my honey was sick today, and I went to play nursey. She was really nauseous, so I made her some ginger syrup to add to seltzer water to help calm her tummy down. This got me thinking about making my own sodas again… this shit is easy folks, and a lot cheaper. Plus, you know exactly what is going into your beverage. Here’s what I made tonight:

Spiced Prickly Pear Syrup

Time: 40 minutes
Yield:  about 4 cups


  • 2 cups (0.5L) prickly pear juice
  • 2 cups (0.5L) water 
  • 4 cups sugar (1000g)
  • 1/4 pound (120g) fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 12 whole peppercorns
  • 6 star anise pods


After prepping the ginger, add everything to a medium pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once a simmer is reached, simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until volume is reduced slightly and syrup is thickened. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain liquid with a sieve/mesh strainer over a bowl. Voilá!


Whatever the hell you want to use it for is up to you: pancake syrup, ice cream syrup, cocktails, desserts… my favorite is simply making homemade soda with it. 1/8 cup of syrup over ice and top off with 8 oz. of seltzer water and a lime wedge. You can of course, adjust the syrup amount according to your preference.

Allergy: No common ones :)