My father died last year. He had just turned 70 years old. The official diagnosis was Agent Orange Related Parkinson’s Disease. The official cause of death was asphyxiation. He died choking on his own blood. And though he may have died on January 29, 2020, the truth is, Agent Orange exposure killed him 50 years before.
For the first two years of their marriage, my mom was the recipient of many a late-night trip to the floor as my father would grab her and toss her, yelling “incoming.” The only story I had ever heard about his time in Vietnam was one in which he was riding shotgun, holding a gun, as their convoy passed through a small village. As was often the case, the villagers in town would gather on each side of the road as the soldiers would throw provisions and food to them.
The young Vietnamese children would run up yelling, “chop, chop,” which meant candy. My Dad said he often knew when they were among the Viet Cong because no one gathered. But this particular day, as the crowd parted, a young Vietnamese girl about four years old walked from the crowd and stopped about 20 feet ahead of them. My father saw the grenade. As the truck stopped, he got out and slowly made his way over to her. He spoke to her in Vietnamese and asked her to drop it. He asked again, and he asked again. But the child reached for the pin. In one fail swoop, my father made a decision that changed his view of life forever.
The only other story I have heard about my Dad, and Vietnam, came last week at his service. This letter was written by one of my Dad’s platoon buddies. Jay had reached out to my Dad via email before he died, but my Dad could not respond. So after letting him know about the email, Reverend Apple decided to reach out to Jay. This is the letter that Reverend Apple read…
Hello Reverend Apple,
Thanks so much for letting me know about Glenn’s passing. I am sorry to hear that he is gone and wish we might have had the opportunity to reconnect. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Glenn saved my life on Easter Sunday 1969 (April 6) in a clearing in the jungle near Black Virgin Mountain Nui Be Den) in Vietnam. Our company’s lead platoon was ambushed earlier in the afternoon. Two men either killed or badly injured lying in the clearing, exposed to fire from North Vietnamese Army soldiers concealed in well-camouflaged bunkers. Our platoon was called forward to try to reach the casualties, and the platoon leader instructed me to send a fire team (3-4 guys) forward toward the nearest body to pull it back.
Leading the team, I crawled across the clearing but was suddenly hit by a burst of fire from an AK-47, which tore my rifle from my hands and also punctured my left lung, just missed my heart, and wedged within an inch of my spine. About the same time, a rocket-propelled grenade went off in a tree at the edge of the clearing, and I was also spattered with shrapnel. I did some serious praying, and God sent Glenn Dale and the platoon leader across that bullet-swept field to pull me back. Unfortunately, the enemy was still very much present, as I was shot again in the leg after being pulled back to our side of the clearing.
I suspect Glenn did not receive an award for bravery for his actions that day (enlisted men seldom did). Still, he certainly deserved to do so, as he openly exposed himself to the enemy fire to carry me to safety. Without his action, I would certainly have died there and then.
Later in the afternoon, I almost missed the medevac helicopter, as they thought I was a goner. When I finally lay on an operating table at a MASH hospital in Tay Ninh, a priest gave me the last rites. You cannot imagine my surprise when I awoke the following day. I spent the rest of 1969 in military hospitals until discharged – from the hospital and the army – on December 31, 1969.
Please express my condolences and my eternal thanks to Glenn’s family for sending him to me on that Easter over a half-century ago.
Everyone loves hummus! At least, everyone I know loves hummus. But I’ll be you’ve never had hummus made with ingredients forged from your backyard! And I don’t mean your garden! Here in Missouri, we have an overabundance (literally) of wild garlic mustard. A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to take a walk in the woods with a Conservation Agent. She showed our group how to identify wild edible mushrooms, wild ginger, and wild garlic mustard. In addition, we found wild onions and learned about edible flowers. Hence, my recipe for Wild Garlic Mustard Hummus with Roasted Radish and Wildflowers!
I have wanted to make this recipe for a while but just haven’t had the time. Until now! I was a little nervous about posting this hummus, as I thought many people might refrain from making it because of the “wild” nature of the recipe! But, I decided to make it anyway because finding wild garlic mustard is very easy for those who want to head to the woods. For those who are not feeling quite that adventurous, feel free to use dandelion greens, arugula, or another spicy green!
Know Before You Go
Garlic Mustard is one of the more popular wild edibles, and it is also one of the healthiest. However, it would be best to learn how to identify it correctly before you can forage this wild edible. Thankfully Garlic Mustard is a straightforward plant to identify, plus it does not have any toxic look likes to my knowledge. It is also considered to be an invasive plant, so it is not recommended that you plant it after you pull it.
I do not particularly care for raw radishes! They are just a little too spicy for my palate. However, roasting them brings out their natural sweetness and transforms them into something I can’t get enough of! They add a lovely addition and the farmer’s markets are brimming with them! If you opt for the wildflowers be sure they are far enough in the woods that they don’t get sprayed with pesticides. The tops of clover are a perfect choice. Wild blue phlox (the perennial kind in the woods), marigolds, dandelions, nasturtiums, roses, or the tops off of any flowering herb work well as a topper! I have tons of phlox in my backyard so it was an obvious choice for me!
1 lb. fresh radishes, stems removed, ends trimmed, and halved
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil, or avocado oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 tspdried chives
1/4 tsp dried dill
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cupwild garlic mustard, rinsed, and chopped
1can organicchickpeas, drained, and rinsed
3 Tbsp organic tahini
1 Tbsp(15ml)lemon juice, about 1/2 a large lemon
2 Tbsp (30ml)water
2 Tbsp(30ml)olive oil (if oil free, you can sub oil for chickpea brine)
Preheat oven to 425℉. In a bowl, combine the radishes, coconut oil, herbs, salt, and pepper. Toss until the radishes are evenly coated. (Note: don’t add the minced garlic until step 3).
Spread radishes out in a single layer in a large parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. After the first 10 minutes of baking add the minced garlic and toss. Return to oven to bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until radishes are golden brown and easily pierced with a fork.
Garnish with fresh parsley, dill, or chives
Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.
If the hummus is too dry, add 1 tbsp of water, or aquafaba (chickpea brine) until desired consistency is achieved.
Taste for seasoning. Garnish with radishes and flowers.
Hummus will last up to a week refrigerated and stored in an air tight jar.
Serve with pita bread, raw or roasted vegetables, and thinned out with water it makes a great salad dressing!
It’s Cinco de Mayo, and I don’t have a lot of time to waste! I was in the middle of a lesson plan with my kiddos when I remembered this culinary holiest of holidays! Anytime I get a chance to eat Mexican food, I do! I also do it with extreme vigor, hence, these nachos! Served with my Queso Blanco, these babies will have you dancing in your kitchen! Why do you ask, are they so good?
Because the “jackfruit carnitas” is the star of the show. Not going to lie. I can be found eating it fresh out of the oven while it’s still on the baking sheet! I love this recipe and find that finishing it in the oven is why it goes from good…to out of this world! Even your hardcore meat-eating friends will LOVE these nachos!
Don’t be scared of the number of ingredients. They are primarily spices. If you don’t want to make the spice mix, you can always grab a premed Mexican spice mix at the grocery store. You can also make the carnitas in advance, then slow-warmed in a 350° F oven. Just sprinkle the jackfruit with 2 tbsp of water, and stir well. Add to a prepared baking sheet and warm in the oven for 20 minutes! ¡Ahí lo tienes!
Preheat oven to 425° F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Drain jackfruit in a colander and use your fingers, and shred jackfruit into pieces. (I generally pick out the seed pods and toss them). Set aside.
Heat a medium skillet (I use cast-iron) over medium heat. When the pan is warmed, add oil. Add onion and cook until softened, translucent, and lightly caramelized, about 7-8 minutes. Add sliced garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
Add spices. Mix well and sauté for 30 seconds to a minute.
Add tomato paste and stir well.
Add prepared jackfruit and soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, citrus juices, and cider vinegar. Stir well—season with salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture gently for another 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove from pan and add to prepared baking sheet. Add to the oven, and slow roast jackfruit for 20 minutes, or until edges begin to crisp and brown. While the jackfruit is in the oven, prep your toppings.
Chop avocados, green onions, and tomatoes. Shred the lettuce.
Remove jackfruit from the oven and immediately season jackfruit with fresh lime juice, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. (Mix spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top).
Assemble nachos, add your favorite ingredients, and enjoy!
It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been thinking a lot about writing, I just haven’t actually written anything down. Much like writing recipes, I have gotten to the point where I only want to write something that’s meaningful to me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to create and make something consistently. And then I end up not wanting to do anything at all. Run the other way, if you will.
According to my doc, it’s making my blood pressure go up. That scared me. I will 50 years old in 6 months, and I refuse to take medications. So, I’m going to try the opposite approach and give myself some space. It is there where I imagine I will find my creativity again and hopefully regain my peace.
Speaking of medications, I get my second Covid shot in a few weeks. I’m excited. I’m also a bit flabbergasted by those who still think the vaccine is going to make them sterile, or it’s deep state government trying to change their DNA, or it’s the mark of the beast. These are most likely the same folks who are taking 2-3 different pharmaceuticals already.
I say this confidently since nearly 70% of American’s take at least one prescription drug, and more than half take two, according to the Mayo Clinic. Things like statins, anti-depressants, and immunosuppressants, are the most common. These are also the same drug manufacturers who are making the Covid vaccine. Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?
Why then are American’s so suddenly concerned about what they put in their bodies? Between the food they eat and their lifestyle medications, it’s the Covid vaccine that’s got everyone all up in arms? On one hand, it’s strange to me, but on the other hand, it’s not surprising. I remind myself that I live in a country that spends more money on healthcare than anyone else in the world. Yet, we are also the sickest of all of the industrialized nations.
I get it, a significant concern for many is the limited amount of testing and safety trials. While this is understandable, did you know that for a major pharmaceutical company to get drug approval, they only need to have two trials that show the drug is effective and safe? So, a drug company could have run 100 trials against the placebo, and even if 98 trials indicated they were not effective but at least two of them showed they were effective, they could move on to the next phase of getting them out to the public. Two is all they need.
My good friend Dan is a biochemist and QA Manager at Pfizer. He is also one of the scientists who worked tirelessly to help create the vaccine against Covid-19. In the human trials at Pfizer, the vaccine was compared to the placebo in 43,448 people. During the study, 170 participants developed Covid. When the blind study was revealed, 162 of the patients were in the placebo group. In other words, they did not get the vaccine. Of the ten most severe cases, 9 out of 10 were also the placebo group. Moderna’s results were very similar. There were 185 cases, and all but 11 were in the placebo group. But of Moderna’s most severe cases, 30 out of 30 were in the placebo. They both show 90% effectiveness.
Aside from the vaccine, the best cure for covid might just be education. My daughter and I took a walk behind our house the other day. We live in the woods, and there is an old cemetery about ¼ mile out of our backdoor. When I say old, it’s between 150-220 years old. She was fascinated by how young people were when they died back then. We counted only a handful of people who were over the age of 70. We talked about the kinds of things people died from, including smallpox, tuberculosis, typhoid, mumps, measles, rubella.
You get my point. Vaccines have helped us more than they’ve hurt us. Science matters, and it’s essential to our survival. Social media can help speak the truth, but it’s also the new National Enquirer in many ways. And it should not and cannot be one’s only source of information.
When 11 percent or about 39.6 million American’s believe the government is mandating a switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs because the light bulbs make people obedient and easy to control, we have a problem on our hands. Disinformation and conspiracy theories have become a cultural pandemic. And experts see this spread of disinformation as a public health emergency that’s threatening democracy, increasing the risk of further violence, and straining family relationships.
This misinformation includes those who believe that the vaccine has a tracking device, or a chip, implanted in it. Some of these people are Christian right devotees for whom politics has become their new religion. The idea that the chips will allow the government and corporations to surveil people who get the vaccine is complete unproven nonsense. Also, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and cell towers using 5G technology are also allegedly involved. Apparently, there’s a video on the internet that Gates made about COVID-19 vaccines and it has convinced some they can change DNA, the molecule that contains a person’s genetic code.
How far are we willing to allow these people to take us? Certain estimates are that only 47% of people in the US are willing to get vaccinated. That is not enough for us to obtain herd immunity and finally move past this. When ignorance and fear take the place of logic and science, I fear we are doomed.
So how do we untangle the truth? It turns out the best way to fight a conspiracy theory isn’t with facts. If you’re trying to debunk them on Facebook, you’re likely wasting your time, said Geoff Dancy, associate professor of political science at Tulane University School of Liberal Arts. “Debunking means saying, ‘Hey, look, there’s this fact that your theory can’t explain. So you shouldn’t believe it anymore, right?’ Why doesn’t that work?
Well, conspiracy theorists are remarkably resilient to that kind of a thing,” Dancy said. “To change a conspiracy theorist’s ideas or susceptibility to the actual truth, you have to change the way that you interact with them.” Seeking the truth together, developing trust, and encouraging people to read information from various credible sources can be helpful.
Many people with lower levels of education tend to be drawn to conspiracy theories. And we don’t argue that’s because people are not intelligent. It’s simply that they haven’t been allowed to have or haven’t been given access to the tools to enable them to differentiate between sound sources and wrong sources or credible sources and non-credible sources. So, they’re looking for that knowledge and certainty but not necessarily looking in the right places. The truth is, we don’t need to look anywhere else but in the past.
Before vaccines, the average lifespan at the time was around 35 years. Over the last 200 years, U.S. life expectancy has more than doubled to almost 80 years (78.8 in 2015), with vast improvements in health and quality of life. Yes, some people will have side effects, and in comparison to the enormous number of lives that are saved because of them, it is worth it.
Unfortunately, measles is now resurgent in the United States and in many other countries. We cannot let historical amnesia or misinformation be why we end up with a resurgence of diseases like polio, diphtheria, and measles. And we cannot let Covid-19 be what kills us.
I am a big pasta girl! But like most people, I would imagine, I tend stick to traditional recipes like spaghetti, fettuccini, and lasagna. Mostly because buying a stuffed pasta like tortellini isn’t easy when you’re a vegan. So what is a girl to do? Make a fantastic version of goat cheese, add some dried herbs, stuff wonton wrappers with fantastic cheese, and BOOM! Homemade tortellini!
I love this recipe…and admittedly, a lot is going on! But no worries, you can make much of the recipe in advance, aka the vegan goat cheese and the tortellini. In French, beurre means butter, and blanc means white. So, this is a classic “white” sauce made with butter!
Beurre blanc can sometimes be viewed as tricky to make. Because without the addition of egg yolk to stabilize the sauce, it is prone to split. The acid in the citrus sauce can ‘break’ if heated too hot, or too many times, or not whisked while heating. The key is to ensure that the butter is chilled and added slowly. And also, be sure to turn DOWN heat to med/low when adding the butter so that you don’t end up with Beurre Marron! Good things come to those who wait.
As a matter of practice, I like to make my sauces an hour before use. I’m not too fond of surprises, and if for some reason the sauce doesn’t turn out, I still have time to make a new one. Yes, after almost 25 years, it does still happen. If needed, it can easily be reheated over low heat.
Freezing the tortellini: If not cooking the tortellini immediately, freeze them on a sheet pan and transfer them to a freezer-safe container once solid. Tortellini will keep for about three months. Cook directly from the freezer, but increase the cooking time by a minute or two.
Add almond cheese to a medium-size bowl. Add Herbs de Provence, parmesan cheese, fennel pollen, if using, and salt and pepper. Mix well.
Dust a clean surface with cornmeal. Lay wonton wrapper flat and add 1 rounded teaspoon to the center of the wrapper.
Lightly brush the edges of the wonton wrapper with water (I keep a small bowl of water nearby). Fold wonton into a triangle. Turn triangle, so the long edge is facing you. Gently press the filling flat and fold wonton 3/4 of the way upward, toward its tip. Flatten slightly. Brush each side of the flap with water. Placing your finger in the center of the fold, carefully fold each side over your finger. Lightly pinch closed. Continue until all cheese has been used.
Add tortellini to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
In a dutch oven, bring salted (about 1 tsp) water to a boil.
Drop tortellini into boiling water. Remove from water when tortellini begin to float.
Citrus Beurre Blanc:
Heat one tablespoon of butter in a saucepan and add the shallots. Cook briefly, stirring, and add the citrus and wine. Cook until the liquid is almost totally reduced.
Add the heavy cream and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and slowly add the pieces of butter, a few at a time, stirring rapidly with a wire whisk.
When sauce is done, add tortellini and stir until warmed through.
Serve in a shallow bowl, and top with fennel fronds and orange peel.
Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over pasta, and serve warm.
This is THE best recipe for creating a rich vegan-style goat cheese! It’s tangy like goat cheese, creamy, and a bit crumbly like a Boursin, and You can slice it, diced, crumbled, even baked! It is also the rock star of my vegan cheese board! Made with coconut milk and almonds, this cheese can be ready to eat in as little as an hour. Quick note, be sure to buy “refined” coconut oil. If you use extra virgin or unrefined coconut oil, your cheese will taste like coconut.
Since it’s a cultured cheese, the longer it sits at room temperature, the tangier it will be. The sweet spot seems to be about 48 hours! I added one probiotic capsule to culture it. But if you like it tangier, you can add the contents of an additional probiotic capsule!
I found many recipes that use macadamia nuts or cashews, both of which are very expensive. For this recipe, I opted for blanched, slivered almonds. They’re inexpensive, and yet they have the mild flavor and similar fat content of the other two nuts. Fat is important for making cheese!
This cheese makes a great filling for ravioli or tortellini! It also makes a mean bruschetta! If you make this, please tag me and let me know how you like it!
This bowl is a family favorite! I love the tofu cutlets, and the BBQ makes it sooooo good! Feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand. The great thing about a bowl is that there is no wrong way to make it! I love the Southwest flair this dish has, and it makes a perfect weeknight dish!
You can make the cilantro lime rice ahead of time, and it helps when you have several things cooking at once. I used a smoky-sweet Kansas City-style BBQ sauce, but again, it’s your preference! This dish would also be great with coleslaw instead of rice! You could also go Korean style with some Gochujang, black rice, and baked cauliflower! The possibilities are endless!
1 (15 oz) can Pinto beans, drained and rinsed well
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1 head of organic broccoli
3 Tbsp water
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch of sea salt
Place the soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Montreal Seasoning in a blender.
Blend at high speed for 30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
When tofu is pressed, pat dry and lay flat. Cut tofu in half widthwise. Cut each piece in half again, and repeat once more until you have eight rectangles.
Place tofu in a non-reactive, preferably glass pan or bowl with a lid. Add marinade and coat well.
Allow tofu to marinate for at least 30 minutes, (up to 4 hours).
While tofu is marinating, make your Rice. * (See note)
When rice is done, warm a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is warm, add 2 tsp of olive oil.
When oil is shimming, add tofu and any marinade that is left over. Pan sear tofu until browned on each side. About 2-3 minutes per side.
When browned, remove the tofu and add to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush one side of the tofu with BBQ sauce and bake for 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven, flip tofu, brush the other side. Return to oven for 3-4 more minutes.
While tofu is in the oven, in a medium-size saucepan, add drained and rinsed pinto beans, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper each, 1/2 cup vegetable stock, and 1 tsp of cumin. Cook over medium heat until warmed through.
While beans are simmering, add broccoli to the same skillet you used to cook the tofu. Do not clean the pan first. You want the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook broccoli with 3 Tbsp of water, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and sea salt, over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes until bright and lightly browned.
Remove tofu from the oven and lightly brush each side with more BBQ Sauce.
Assemble bowl, Rice first, Broccoli, Beans, and add Tofu to Rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I love this rice dish! It’s super simple to make and goes with just about everything! My daughter loves the cilantro rice at Qdoba, so I decided to make a homemade version just for her! I prefer brown basmati for general use, but for this dish, I opted for white basmati. With a high protein content and very low GI ranking, brown basmati rice can be a healthy option if you use grains. I have not tried this with cauliflower rice, but I would imagine it would be an easy swap!
I like to toast my rice before boiling it. Toasting grains before cooking can enhance the nutty depth of the grains, lending an extra layer of flavor to a final dish! This dish pairs well with my BBQ Tofu Bowl!
Cacio E Pepe translates into cheese and pepper, and it is my two girls’ favorite pasta on earth. It is a fancy mac-n-cheese. The pure simplicity of this recipe makes it almost sinful to change, so I didn’t change much. I added red pepper flakes in place of the traditional black pepper and used vegan cheeses, of course. I liked the addition of the roasted tomatoes a lot. They are like little cherry bombs that explode in your mouth! The kicker for me was the fennel pollen. I have recently discovered this culinary rock star and plan to use it wisely since it is a little expensive, but the good news is that it goes a long way.
The key to this simple pasta is using just enough pasta water for cooking the pasta noodles. Too much water and you will lose all of your starch, not enough water, and you will have to add a little hot water to make the sauce. When the pasta is al dente, you will drain and save the pasta water, ensuring that you have about 2 1/2 cups. This water is what we will use to make the sauce. Add a little butter to the pan, add your pepper flakes, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then add the pasta water to the butter/pepper mix, and then add the pasta and cheese. Stir until the cheese, add pasta to the pan, and Boom! Dinner is served!
I used bucatini, but you can really use any type of pasta you want.