Sloppy Southern Sammies – or – Not Pulled Pork (vegan) (oil free)

This recipe (part of my Orthodox Lenten fasting series) is one of those happy concoctions that is discovered accidentally, while playing with “a dash of this, a splash of that.” Based on the recipe for “Sloppy Black-Eyed Peas” from Vegan Slow Cooking, for Two or Just for You by Kathy Hester, this dish kept evolving the longer it simmered, until I found I had personalized it into something uniquely me! My mixture never got quite as red as the photo in the book, and the collard greens (and my addition of apple cider vinegar) immediately made me think of pork, as collards and vinegar are frequent accompaniments to various pork dishes down South. Culinary experiments don’t always turn out so well, but I will count this as a victory… and I will enjoy dinner tonight!

1 cup dried black-eyed peas

½ cup millet

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

½ red bell pepper, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon sea salt, or to taste

5 cloves garlic, peeled

2 medium tomatoes

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, or more to taste

1 teaspoon cumin powder

4 collard leaves, stems removed, leaves finely chopped

¼ to ½ cup tomato paste (I recommend Cento brand)

Splash of apple cider vinegar, roughly ¼ cup, or to taste


**Soak black-eyed peas for at least 8 hours.**

Add black-eyes peas, millet, carrots, bell pepper, bay leaves, and salt to a medium pot.

Blend tomatoes and garlic in a blender with 2 cups of water. Pour into pot. Pour in more water if necessary to just cover the beans and vegetables.

Bring to boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer until beans and veggies are soft. Roughly 45 minutes. Stir frequently as the mixture begins to thicken, so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Add water if mixture is too dry and thick. If mixture is too watery, uncover and continue simmering while allowing some liquid to evaporate.

Once beans are becoming soft and mixture is getting thick to your preference, remove bay leaves and carefully ladle out 1-2 cups of the mixture. Allow to cool slightly, then carefully transfer to blender. Blend until smooth, then return to pot. Stir. Add Cajun seasoning, cumin powder, collards, tomato paste, vinegar, and any additional salt or pepper to taste. Stir thoroughly.

Cover and leave to sit, and cool. As it cools, it will continue to thicken, and the flavors will continue to gently infuse.

Stir again before serving.

Can be eaten from a bowl, but the idea is to treat it somewhat like a pulled pork sandwich… best served on a toasted bun!IMG_0345IMG_0352





Cheesefare Meal Plan

“Cheesefare” may sound like an odd term to many of my readers… odd, but also probably delicious. It is! Gearing up for Orthodox Christian Great Lent, Cheesefare is a vegetarian week that helps ease us into the more restricted menus of the traditional Christian Lenten fast, which starts next week. Now is not the time for gluttonous extravagance (ahem, Mardi Gras), but this is the week to use up all your dairy products and prepare to tighten your belts for the next month. Month and a half…. -ish. At the insistence of my oldest child, the oldest two girls and I are going to try to abide by the Lenten fast this year!!!

As the cook for the family, I am nervous about providing meals that will encourage children to willingly follow this tradition, as I am firmly against forcing it. While I did dabble in vegetarianism and veganism in my early 20s, it has been a long time since I committed to that type of diet, and this is the first time attempting it with children in tow! Also, my husband will not be participating, so there will continue to be plenty of “regular food” in the house to tempt us every day. But that’s life I suppose, isn’t it? And Lent isn’t supposed to be easy anyway. It is supposed to be an exercise in self-discipline.

Despite my apprehension and lack of experience, I though some of my readers might find it helpful, encouraging, and maybe even inspiring to see someone try their best at something new, and document their plans and experiences. So much of social media shows only the polished final result of monumental efforts…. or the glamorized chaos of people who have given up. This potential series will fall somewhere in-between. Far from polished! But hopefully I won’t give up, either. I will struggle and learn and keep trying.

Here is a list with links (when available) of what I plan on making at least for dinner this week. Lunches and breakfasts will be more spur-of-the-moment, but I will try to jot them down and edit this post with that information later in the week.

Monday – Macaroni and cheese. (I don’t yet have my own version up, but this one is very similar!) We will probably be eating leftovers from this meal throughout the week for lunch, and I will freeze whatever isn’t eaten.

Tuesday – Quesadilla with beans. I don’t have a set plan for this one! Maybe cheese quesadillas with beans on the side? Or cheese-and-bean quesadillas??? I will likely throw some veggies in the quesadillas as well. Some cooked bell pepper slices, probably! Maybe a bit of broccoli… it’s such a versatile dish, that I really can’t decide what I will do in advance! If we do beans on the side, I am hoping to try a traditional Colombian version by My Colombian Recipes. My husband is Colombian, and I think he would be surprised and pleased to see these on the table.

Wednesday – Tomato soup and grilled cheese. This is another recipe I need to type up and post here. I will update this with a link when I get around to it. I typically grate sharp cheddar cheese for the sandwiches, and ideally use my own homemade pain de mie. GAME CHANGER. I’m telling you! I enjoy adding exotic stinky cheeses, but the kids don’t tolerate that much experimentation.

Thursday – Dal makhani. I’ve been cooking this dish for years and have sort of developed my own version of it. However, I started with the version from Manjula’s Kitchen, and seriously, you can never go wrong with one of her recipes!! I am inspired by her recipe as well as the version by Anupy Singla’s book, “The Indian Slow Cooker“.

Friday – Vegetable lasagna. Surprisingly, I have never come up with a lasagna recipe we have fallen in love with, so I’m especially nervous about this one! I found a recipe online from Cookie+Kate and immediately put in on my “Cheesefare” Pinterest board. I couldn’t find whole wheat, no-boil lasagna noodles at my local store, so I bought Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles instead, and will hope for the best! I will edit this with an update if I attempt this recipe.

Saturday – Pizza. Likely Pizza Hut stuffed-crust cheese pizza. Because that’s what we usually order for family movie night anyway!! This is our last hurrah for a while!

Sunday – Bean and egg burritos. I honestly don’t have a plan for this one either… will probably incorporate cheese?