Gothic Granola

Tag Archives: Microlunch


It’s squash season, or as I say it in my head, “skvosh.”
When I can use my mom’s or my grandmother’s food processors, I jump on it. I like my squash grated.


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Quick Cucumber Mint Pickle

Quick Cucumber Mint Pickle
This was my third-place recipe for Wednesday’s Foodie Call at ARL WFM. The ingredient was mint and the challenge was to come up with a recipe, make the recipe and get set up in two hours, and “demo” it–serve it in tiny bites with an attractive display–for another two hours.
While I’ve watched cooking challenge shows for years, this took the cake–or the cuke. Since I’m customer service, I could use any ingredient from the entire store to cook. Being vegan and gluten-free, and it being summer (tomorrow), I gravitated towards produce.

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Gingerbread on the Fly

 Every artist is a cannibal
Every poet is a thief
Both kill their inspiration
And sing about the grief
–U2, “The Fly,” from Achtung Baby (1992)
Why am I sharing my signature dish? Why not. It’s carried me through pre-ganism (when I was testing out this vegan thang because I thought it would keep me safe from other issues with food…subject for another post). It’s carried me through breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks as a vegan and likewise when I became gluten-free.
makeshift gingergread vegan gluten-free | gothic granola

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Simple Gifts: Beet Caraway Slaw

This recipe is ridiculously simple. I had beet stems leftover from buying beets in November. Instead of chewing through them raw or using them in juice, I decided to tenderize them in a quick “refrigerator pickle” with sauerkraut.  For fun, I threw in some raw apple cider vinegar, caraway seeds, and German mustard.  So that the beets and acidic juices wouldn’t turn a container pink, I used a glass container.  I stuck it in the back of the fridge and forgot about it for a few hours. When I took it out, the beet stems had become slightly less chewy and the sour, salty sauerkraut had balanced their natural sweetness.  Success! Similarly, I made stinky raw daikon more palatable by grating it on a mandolin cutter and combining it with sweet crushed pineapple for a slaw of sorts. Then I ran these recipes together and made daikon kraut slaw.
slaw vegan gluten-free | gothic granola

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The Advice Columnist on Survival and Detox, Part 1 o’ 2

In 2001, my brother and I invented Minapoo Mag, the official magazine of da cat family (of which there are 282 members with my acquisition of Jaeger).

Jaeger | Gothic Granola

Meet Jaeger, named after the protagonist in Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder comic series.

Anyway, all the cats collaboratively write Mina’s egocentric magazine.  The advice columnist is Mina’s son, Scamp, who recently turned 17.  Scamp’s not so good wit spellin’ (in the same way that da Ownie Q is not good wit crowds, srsly).  He’s one half of Da Inventor Brudderz—Scamp and Pepper—the kitties responsible for Seussian innovations in KittyWorld. Read more →

The Holidays and You: Perfect Together? | Melty Mints

Remember that old New Jersey tourism slogan, “New Jersey and You: Perfect Together”?  Can you be a tourist this holiday, observing but not being of them?  Granted, there’s also the tourist philosophy of, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  My family’s not from Rome (Naples and Sicily, thank you very much).

What I want to get at here is this: the holidays are a source of stress for some people.  Common knowledge, no need to cite the source.  Whether you’re facing in-laws you dislike, coming home as a newly queer-identified individual, dealing with religious tensions, or feeding an obnoxious number of people with disparate dietary preferences, there are numerous ways in which–

OK, enough with not telling us anything we don’t already know.  Here’s what I do to make the week of self-destruction indulgence from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day bearable.  These are strategies I employ in other situations of uncertainty as well.  I’ll tell you my bias up-front: why is it socially acceptable to over-consume food, fuel, and material goods (question the term “goods”) in the name of religious miracles?  I’m all for feasting in celebration, but there’s a line between feasting and frenzy that disappears right quickly, in my experience.  Feasting, as well, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means, “To keep holiday, give oneself to pleasure; to enjoy oneself. Obs.”  Enjoyment does not connote overconsumption.  Let’s be honest here.  It doesn’t.

This is my bias.  I’ve read a number of blogs and articles about dealing with the holidays whence I first dismissed the authors as “Haters!” for not condoning pulling out the stops and making outrageously unhealthy dishes and gorging oneself on food and drink (and annoying company).

Recently, at Buddhist meditation, we sang a song in which one line was,

“May all beings be safe.”

Indeed, feeling safe is what I want to feel this holiday season.  And so I wish this for you, too.

‘Couple things on the agenda:
cookie recipe

Every year, my mother and maternal grandmother–and since last year, when I became vegan–and I bake several kinds of cookies each in order to share with the family, neighbours, friends, coworkers, and dorm-mates.  Last year and this year I had tea and cookies parties a few days before break so I could share my passion for baking with my friends.  I veganised most of the traditional recipes last year–pizzelles, melty mints, peanut blossoms, chocolate-dipped shorbread, chocolate-white chocolate chips, gingerbread cookies, et cetera–and this year, I set out to make secretly healthy cookies.  OK, they still contain sugar, but I’m using whole grain flours, less sugar, less oil, as many organic ingredients as I can find, and scooping them small.  In case you’re wondering, I get this drive to healthify from my mother.  We–since I was home during “hell week” before Christmas–used white whole wheat flour to replace half or all of the flour in most recipes last year.  I even used regular whole wheat flour and Sucanat in chocolate cookies, and people ate them up.  So if you’re someone who ate my cookies last year, guess what, I slipped you some whole wheat flour.

‘S how I get my kicks.

This year, though, my eight types of cookies have less sugar, less oil or margarine, and are smaller than the original recipes (save pizzelles…they don’t go smaller).  Certainly, in the recipes I shall post, you may use more sweetener or fat as per your preference.  Here’s a truism Michael Pollan didn’t include (at least, not verbatim) in Food Rules: your taste will match your waist.  Just sayin,’ and I’m also saying that I’m not immune to going on overconsumptive benders during the holidays either.  I do not write from a position of superiority, assumed or otherwise.  “Bless me to understand my own faults.  Bless me to have no desire to examine the faults of others,” as we chant every week at meditation.

So, if you haven’t gotten it by now, I highly recommend meditation during the holidays.  Taking time for yourself, whether you’re doing a sitting practice or doing yoga or going for walks, is very important.  Whoa, wait, Q–objects a reader–the holidays aren’t all about you.  They’re about togetherness and family and–

Q says, “ ‘And?’  Why must we use conjunctions to keep adding obligations and abstracts and things and things?  Why not just ‘is?’  Why not ‘enough?’”

There’s a Dutch proverb I like, and though I don’t know how it goes in the original tongue, the translation I read is, “Enough is great riches.”  That “being grateful” spirit extends from Thanksgiving into Christmas and Solstice and New Year’s (I don’t celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa religiously, so I can’t and won’t speak for that which I don’t know).  “Enough” is generally pretty simple, too.

I like early morning.  Being up early’s enough to make me content.  Fresh peanut butter is also very nice.  Sitting and writing with pen and paper’s most enjoyable.

Think about what’s “enough” for you.  Yes, I’m giving orders.  You’re free to stop reading.  You always have been.

On to the programming: Microlunch.

Microlunch is my term for a container full of a high-protein, portable, non-refrigerated snack.  It’s not a full lunch, but I can survive until supper if it’s all I eat.  I fill a container with dried fruit, crackers or other gluten-free, whole-grain starch, and nuts or nut butter.  If I can bring a piece of fruit and water, tea, and maybe even non-dairy milk (since that’s shelf-stable), then that’s basically lunch.  I like the Mary’s Gone Crackers because they’re crunchy and the work it makes my mouth do gives me a greater sense of satiety.

Cookie Recipe

This is my favourite recipe from since I can remember eating Christmas cookies.  It’s a deep chocolate cookie with—the best part—a pastel mint non-pareil in the center.  Through the years, it’s been more difficult to find non-pareils, and last year I switched to Endangered Chocolate’s mint chocolate bars, cut into pieces.  Non-pareils and other such candies are often coated with confectioner’s glaze, an insect-derived component.  I like to eat the cookie first then melt the chocolate in my mouth.

Melty Mints
Modified from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, Kelly Peloza, p. 88, and an unidentified Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa OR black cocoa
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

32 or so pieces vegan mint chocolate for teaspoon-scoop cookies (25 pieces if using a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop)

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.  Melt chocolate chips with the milk in microwave.  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Whisk the oil and vanilla into the melted chocolate mixture.  Add wet to dry.  (You can refrigerate the dough at this point for up to 24 hours before baking.)  Shape into teaspoon-sized balls (or use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop for monster cookies) and DO NOT FLATTEN on baking sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately press chocolate piece onto each cookie.  Cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes then cool completely on a rack.

Wishing you contented, safe holidays—
Come to the Dark Side…we have vegan and gluten-free goodies.