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In this weekly series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including: better health, animal rights, public health, food safety, frugal living, global food crisis and the staggeringly huge contribution of meat/livestock production to climate change/resource depletion.

As our climate change situation becomes more urgent there are those who are suggesting that it is time to bring out geoengineering solutions because we don't have decades left to solve the problem we need solutions that will work now!

But, there is a simple, low-cost solution that is at the tip of our forks (much easier than spraying fake clouds in the sky without knowing the harmful effects to agriculture etc) and that is to drastically reduce meat and animal product consumption.

Time is running out.  Animal agriculture and land use offer the only low cost, large scale, minimal impact means of both slowing global warming and capturing legacy CO2.  What we eat controls almost a third of the land area on our planet, providing a powerful means to reverse climate pollution.  We urgently need a robust debate - which we carefully avoid because it involves that cherished personal issue: diet.
There is only one way to slow the heating quickly.  Short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) can slow the heating by half a degree, or much more  in coming decades.  The US EPA and the UNEP know this.  Hilary Clinton is working with a coalitionof governments to stem SLCPs.  
The only large-scale, low-cost, least side-effect solution on the table was proposed by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency three years ago: stop eating meat, and return the world'™s grazing pastures to forests, savannah and native grasslands.  Seriously.  They found that this solution would cost just 1/5th of any other mitigation option.
Macca's Meatless Monday/Meatless Advocates is a solution oriented activist group, with solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time including: climate change, global food/water insecurity and public health.  Here we don't just talk about the severity of the crisis.  Armed with knowledge about how our actions can contribute we become part of the solution.

I was inspired to create this series by former Beatle and vegetarian advocate Paul McCartney who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat.  We not only discuss the advantages of a less meat diet; we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle music!

We are now celebrating the Jewish New Year of 5773!  I come from a large extended diverse family that eventually gets around to celebrating everything!  How great is that?  The Jewish New Year celebration of Rosh Hashanah is family and food oriented and is steeped in ancient traditions.  Even the food served is a traditional menu which includes some delicious but let's face it; unhealthy for body and Earth dishes.  So to update that traditional menu and make it more Earth and health friendly I've put together a holiday menu that tastes and feels traditionally comforting.  Tonight I'll share my take on a traditional, healthy and Earth friendly holiday dinner.  This menu works not just for Rosh Hashanah but also is great for Thanksgiving, Hannakah, Christmas or anytime you want a hearty, comforting, traditional meal.
       Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup
Gotta have matzo ball soup at a traditional Jewish dinner.  This recipe is so flavorful..yum!

    6 medium carrots, sliced into 1-inch pieces
    2 medium turnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
    1 large onion, diced
    4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
    1 packet Matzo Ball mix (Manischewitz is good)
    2 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, +pinch (optional)
    14 ounces canned diced tomatoes
    6 cups good quality Vegetable Broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place cut carrots, turnips, and onion on a metal sheet pan, toss with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, a pinch of cumin, and kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste. Roast in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until brown, mixing halfway to ensure even browning.

 While vegetables are roasting, prepare matzo balls according to package directions, but with a few "secret" changes. Crack 2 eggs into a medium glass bowl. With a fork, beat egg whites first, and then incorporate yolks: tilt the bowl to one side and "pull" whites up and beat until frothy. Then break yolks and beat together until light yellow and bubbly. Add remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and whip again until fully incorporated and bubbly. Add packet of mix and stir just until combined. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

 Combine 4 cups Vegetable Broth, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin in a 4-quart pot, bring to boil over medium-high heat. Remove matzo ball mix from fridge, form into balls with hands, just under the size of ping-pong balls, about 8. Drop into broth, cover, and lower heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes. When vegetables are finished roasting, remove from oven. Remove cover from pot and add remaining 2 cups Vegetable Broth and diced tomatoes(undrained). Add vegetables, and bring soup to boil over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and add salt, pepper, or cumin to taste. Serve, and enjoy!        
       Warm Spinach Salad w/ Grilled Portobellos
This is a salad elegant enough for a holiday!  Adapted from Chuck Williams

1 lb fresh portobellos, scrubbed clean and stems removed
1/4 cup safflower oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup walnuts
10 oz spinach, stems removed
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Brush the mushrooms with the safflower oil and sprinkle with the sage and pepper, set aside.

Whisk together the walnut oil, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

Place a cast iron grill skillet on your stovetop. When heated up, place the walnuts in the skillet and cook until lightly browned and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring nuts frequently. Remove the skillet from the grill and coarsely chop the walnuts.

Place the mushrooms on the grill, gill side down, and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until browned and just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes longer. Remove from the grill and slice into 1/4 inch strips.

Place the spinach leaves in a grill basket, and sprinkle with 1/2 of the the vinaigrette. Place the basket on the grill pan and cook until the leave are slightly wilted, about 3 minutes on each side.

To assemble the salad, place 1/4 of the spinach leaves on each plate, add a few strips of the mushrooms, sprinkle with the walnuts, and dress with remaining vinaigrette to taste.
          Field Roast w/ Mashed Potatoes
Cooking a meatless traditional style dinner is easy if you use one of the many meatless faux products available.  One of my favorite product lines is Field Roast Brand  (a grain meat with no soy) and for this menu I've used their Celebration it says it's perfect for a celebration.   Just follow the package directions and it's perfect.
I like to use a traditional mushroom red wine gravy with the roast...delish!

Fantastic on mashed potatoes.  Makes 2 cups.   If you like a mellower gravy, stir in a few tablespoons of cream at the end.  From Vegetarian Times

    ½ oz. dried porcini mushrooms
    2 Tbs. unsalted butter (I use vegan Earth Balance)
    1 Tbs. olive oil
    10 oz. cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
    2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
    1 ½ cups dry red wine, such as Merlot
    ½ tsp. minced fresh rosemary

 Pour 1 1/2 cups water over porcini in bowl; steep 30 minutes. Strain liquid through coffee filter, reserving liquid and mushrooms separately. Chop porcini.

Heat butter and oil in skillet over medium-low heat. Add cremini mushrooms, cover, and cook 20 minutes, or until browned. Uncover, add garlic, and cook 30 seconds.

 Stir flour into mushrooms. Add 1/2 cup wine to pan, and scrape up brown bits. Stir in remaining 1 cup wine, reserved mushroom liquid, and porcini. Simmer 7 minutes, or until sauce has reduced by half. Stir in rosemary.
        Round Challah with Raisins
On Rosh Hashonna it's traditional to serve round challah rather than the usual braided loaf shape.  It's shaped to represent completeness or the end and beginning of a new year. Also like to add optional raisins for a sweet year.   Challah is traditional egg dough but I've been experimenting with a vegan dough and am very happy with this recipe from VeganDad.  Makes 2 large loaves

- 18 oz (510g/2.25 cups) lukewarm water
- 1.5 tbsp instant yeast
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 oz (56.5g/1/4 cup) warm water
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 4 oz (113g/1/2 cup) vegan cream cheese (I use tofutti), or soy yogurt, or whizzed silken tofu
- 2.5 oz (71g/5 tbsp) vegetable oil
- 3 oz (85g/6 tbsp) sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 34 oz (964g/7.5 cups) white bread flour
- 2.5 tsp salt
- plain soy milk, for brushing
- poppy and sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

1. Pour water into a mixing bowl, then sprinkle yeast over top.  Whisk to dissolve.
2. Whisk the flax seed, the 1/2 cup of water, and turmeric in a medium separate bowl.  Let sit for a few mins to thicken, then whisk again. Add cream cheese (or whatever you are using) and whisk until smooth.  Then add oil and whisk until smooth.
3. Add flax mixture to the yeast/water mixture.  Add sugar, extract, flour, and salt then bring together into a rough dough.  Let sit for 5 mins to let the flour absorb the liquid.
4. Mix with a dough hook on med-lo speed for 4 minutes, or with by hand with a large, wet, spoon.  Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 mins, until you get a very soft and tacky (but not sticky) dough.  Add flour sparingly as needed.  Place dough into a very large, oiled bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.  The dough will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge and will rise like crazy.
5. On baking day, remove the dough from the fridge and immediately divide into 10 equal pieces on a lightly floured surface (i.e. 5 pieces for each loaf).  Roll each piece into a 14 inch rope with tapered ends.  Braid 5 ropes into a loaf, as per this video.  Repeat with remaining 5 ropes. (for Rosh Hashonna  use a long rope and wind into circle)
6.  Place loaves on a baking tray (or two smaller trays if they can both fit on one shelf in your oven) lined with parchment.  Brush loaves with soy milk (I actually mist them with a spray bottle filled with soy milk).  Let sit for 2 mins, then brush again.  Top with seeds.  Let sit, uncovered, for 1 hour (or until risen about 1.5 times in size).
7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  When loaves have risen, bake on the middle shelf for 20 mins.  Rotate the pan, then bake for another 15-20 mins (or until loaves are golden brown and register at least 190 degrees in the middle.
8.  Cool on a wire rack for 45 mins before slicing.  Enjoy!
       Honey Cake
It's traditional to have apple honey cake for the sweetest New Year.  This cake is made with date honey for vegans for can use bee honey if desired.

3/4 c. sugar
2/3 c. date honey
1/3 c. agave syrup
1 c. apple sauce
1/2 c. oil
1 c. water
2 1/2 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. raisins (optional)
sliced almonds for garnish (optional)

Pour all the ingredients except raisins in a bowl.

Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Mix in raisins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

The batter is thinner than bee honey batter, so the raisin may sink to the bottom. If that bothers you omit them

Shana Tova

"Yes, It Is"   The Beatles

"I'll Follow The Sun"  The Beatles

What have you all been cooking?  Please share your holiday cooking recipes and fave Beatle music here!

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