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Vegan with a Vengeance

dining1Best-selling vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz hits Bookshop Santa Cruz

The world today is a different place for a vegan than it was in 2003, when Isa Chandra Moskowitz started “The Post Punk Kitchen” out of her small Brooklyn apartment. Certainly, it is a different place than when she went vegan in 1989.

As a lover of cooking shows, Moskowitz lamented the absence of a single vegan culinary show on television and decided to start her own, “The Post Punk Kitchen” (The PPK), on New York’s public access channel.

“It made vegan cooking a little bit more fun,” she says. “It gave people permission to not make it all about activism and politics.”

Along with the show came a website by the same name aimed at fostering community and making vegan recipes more available.

“At the time, it was harder to know how to do things like replace eggs and it seemed like a good idea to have a place to share that information,” explains Moskowitz.

Efforts like hers set into motion an explosion of vegan cookbooks, blogs, restaurants, and products in the years since. But amid the ballooning options, The PPK (the website; the show no longer runs) has remained a fixture.

dining Moskowitz IsaDoseItLongtime vegan and local yoga teacher Amey Mathews first stumbled across The PPK when looking for information on the usage of a certain ingredient. She posted her question to the forum, and within minutes had several useful responses.

“You can discuss anything from vegan finds at Trader Joe’s to raising a vegan child, to what to make for a church potluck where you will be the only vegan there,” says Mathews, who has a blog called Vegan Eats & Treats.

Moskowitz’s influence leaped beyond TV and computer screens in 2005, when she kicked off her career as a best-selling cookbook author with “Vegan with a Vengeance” (which Mathews calls “really revolutionary”). Subsequent books, now considered staples in vegan kitchens countrywide, include “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World” and “Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.”

Although a theme throughout her work has been to win all types of eaters over with delicious vegan dishes, she considers her new book, “Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week,” her “book for people who aren’t necessarily vegan.”

The book, which she will be discussing at Bookshop Santa Cruz on Tuesday, Nov. 12, is chockfull of healthy, weeknight-schedule-friendly meals that happen to be meat- and dairy-free.

“I’ve learned that the biggest incentive for people to change is their taste buds,” she says.

She hopes the uncomplicated and tempting recipes in “Isa Does It” will inspire people to start cooking more and to ditch store-bought, processed meat substitutes and vegan “cheeses” rampant in contemporary vegan food.

“I want to make sure that cooking from scratch is something done in vegan cooking and is really easy, too,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be labor intensive or intimidating.” 

 Isa Chandra Moskowitz will speak at Bookshop Santa Cruz at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov.12. The event will include a Q&A.


 

Roasty Soba Bowl With Miso Tahini

Serves 4    
Time: 30 minutes (or 45 minutes if you don’t have lentils prepared)

Ingredients:
8 oz buckwheat soba noodles
2 cups cooked brown or green lentils
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into large florets
1 tbsp. olive oil
dining21/4 tsp. salt
Several dashes fresh black pepper

Dressing:
1/4 cup mellow white miso
1/4 cup tahini
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water

Optional: sprouts or fresh herbs for garnish (dill, cilantro and parsley are all good choices)

Cook the lentils if you don’t already have them prepared (1 cup dry is about 2 cups cooked). While the water for the soba is boiling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and chop the cauliflower into large florets.

When the water boils, prepare soba according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and set aside, rinsing with cold water to prevent sticking.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Toss the cauliflower on the sheet with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, flipping once, until aromatic and nicely toasted.

In the meantime, place all dressing ingredients in a small blender. Start with 1/2 cup water, and then add another 1/4 to thin, if you like.

Divide soba noodles into big bowls. Top with lentils, cauliflower and plenty of sauce. Garnish with herbs or sprouts and serve.

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