Vegan Grandma

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I found an interesting article at the website of the North American Vegetarian Society . The article, "The Decline and Fall of Human Supremacy", was written by Vance Lehmkuhl, a writer and political cartoonist. (His book, The Joy of Soy, is a collection of vegetarian cartoons). In the article, Vance writes that our assumption of human supremacy is being challenged. The entire pdf file can be downloaded at . Click on "The Decline and Fall of Human Supremacy" under Vegetarian Voice articles.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

"From antiquity up to a few hundred years ago it was understood by nearly all human beings that the sun revolved around the earth. This made sense because, as we were the center of consciousness, creation and the universe itself, the cosmos should logically be set up as a backdrop to humanity."

"The current orthodoxy is that although we were placed on an out-of-the-way planet nowhere the center of our galaxy, our species is still the be-all and end-all of creation, or at least failing that, of consciousness."

"Since the dawn of time, we were supposedly the only animals with a real language. By the 20th century that notion was already discredited, and our claim to distinction became 'Man the Tool-Maker'..........With documentary evidence of chimpanzees fashioning and using termite-scooping tools in rotting logs, that fell by the wayside as well."

"In June, The journal Science reported that 'A German border collie named Rico has learned 200 words, indicating that a dog's ability to understand language is far better than expected.' A Bloomberg News story goes on to explain that Rico 'correctly retrieved 37 out of 40 toys by name.' Here's the kicker. 'The dog was given the names of the toys just once.' "

"Do you speak German? If not pretend you're given German words for 40 objects, hearing German words only once. Would you be able to match more that 37 of them?"

"Any one of these incidents puts a serious dent in the concept of human supremacy......."

".......every animal that walks the earth, or swims, or flies is precious beyond description, something so rare and wonderful that it equals the stars or the ocean or the mind of man. Animals form an inalienable fragment of nature, and if we hasten the disappearance of even one species, we diminish our world and our place in it."-‘James Michener-‘Where Did the Animals Go?’ Readers’ Digest June 1976

Vegan Very Benevolent Caesar Salad and Charkhlis Mkhali (Beet Puree)

I tried two new recipes for today. The first one is from The New Now and Zen Epicure, Gourmet Vegan Recipes for the Enlightened Palate, by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner, published 2001 by Book Publishing Company, Summertown, Tennesee, page173. This book has some great recipes, such as Gateau de Crepes and French Onion Pie. I thought this Vegan Ceasar Salad was very good.

Vegan Very Benevolent Caesar Salad
makes 4 servings

1 small head romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into large pieces


2 tablespoons almond meal (blanched ground almonds)*
3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)

*I couldn’t find any almond meal, and blanched almonds were expensive, so I ground up un-blanched almonds in my coffee grinder. It seemed to work out O.K. except for brown flakes in the dressing, which didn't seem to affect the taste. If I were making it for guests, I would use blanched almonds to make it look nicer.

Prepare the romaine lettuce and put it in a large bowl.

For the dressing, combine the almond meal, garlic, mustard, and nutritional yeast to make a paste, then whisk in the soy sauce, lemon juice, water, and optional olive oil. Put the croutons on top, pour on the dressing, and toss.

Serve immediately.

The next recipe is a traditional recipe from the Republic of Georgia (which was part of the former Soviet Union). I have a lovely daughter-in-law who is from The Republic of Georgia, and I really like the Charkhlis Mkhali she makes. My daughter-in-law uses a special Georgian spice mixture she gets from The Republic of Georgia. The following version, from The Georgian Feast, by Darra Goldstein, published by Harper Collins Publishers, page 160, calls for spices that are easy to find in the U.S.A.

Charkhlis Mkhali (Beet Puree)
Serves 6

Mkhali is a vegetable puree with herbs and ground walnuts. It can be made from various vegetables, although spinach and beets are most often used.

Georgians like to mix their charkhlis by hand, but, in our modern society we can use a blender. (My daughter-in-law’s mother makes hers by hand, but my daughter-in-law uses a blender, as did I)

1 pound of beets
½ cup of shelled walnuts
3 garlic cloves, peeled
½ teaspoon of salt
½ cup of chopped cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of dried summer savory
1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander seed
1 or 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar (to taste)

Bake the unpeeled beets at 375 degrees F. for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until tender. If you are short of time, the beets may be boiled, but their flavor will not be as good.

While the beets are cooking, grind together walnuts, garlic and salt.(I used my coffee grinder to grind the nuts, then I transferred everything to a food processor). Add the cilantro, parsley and continue grinding to make a fine paste . Transfer to a bowl.

When the beets are soft, peel them and finely grate them in the food processor. In a medium size bowl mix together the grated beets and the ground walnut mixture, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Keep tasting, as the amount of vinegar needed will depend on the sweetness of the beets. The mkhali should be slightly tart.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but bring to room temperature before serving. Serve mounded on a plate and cross-hatched on top with a knife.