So.  Do you like sauerkraut?  I mean — have you given homemade sauerkraut a chance in your adult life?

I was reintroduced to the stuff when I lived with a roommate in Boston who was, according to a friend, “like a Level 10 vegan.”  Vegan roommate, an excellent cook, used to pack red cabbage in jars and let them ferment in a cabinet, adding the finished product to sandwiches and rice dinners and other things.  It was good sauerkraut, not creepy like the unmonitored vats at a hot dog stand, and I could see that it was very easy to make.  (It is easy on the level of doing your own laundry.)

Not long after I found a terrific fanzine called Wild Fermentation that teaches one how to make their own sauerkraut.  It also teaches one how to make cheese, or tempeh, or tej or yogurt or pickles and other fermented foods.  It has since been turned into a book but you can still find the stunningly simple recipe for sauerkraut here. Thank you, Sandor Ellix Katz, a.k.a. Sandor Kraut, for making your passion so accessible to us.

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There have been lots of black beans in my life as of late, where they find form as black bean burgers, black bean chili (my favorite recipe being from Deborah Madison’s Greens Cookbook), and those amazing flourless black bean brownies. Sometimes extra beans get thrown together with brown rice.

My new fave thing to do with beans is spreads. Here you can let some creativity loose and combine whatever ingredients you have on hand to make something cheap, versatile, and awesome. You can use black beans, of course, but any other bean will do. Each variety has its own particular, subtle flavor. Lima, Cannellini, Adzuki, Flageolet, fresh Favas — get to know your beans!

The recipe below is for a basic savory spread, and can be paired with bread, chip, or meaty item. What about a sweet bean spread, à la mochi, you say? I’ve yet to try it, but it could be good.  Chocolate beans?  Maple beans?  Fruity beans?


2 cups beans, soaked (about 1 cup dry), canned, or leftovered
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. oil (sesame, olive, peanut — consider your other flavors when choosing)
1 tsp. salt

If using soaked beans: put them in a pot, cover with water about an inch above the surface of the beans, add a bay leaf and dash salt, and cook until soft, about an hour. Or use a pressure cooker, way faster.

Heat the oil and salt in a pan. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent and tender. (You could get wild here and caramelize the onions, roast the garlic.) In a food processor, blend the beans until they are a smooth paste. Add the garlic and onion and purée.


  • Fresh herbs
  • Horseradish
  • Roasted peppers
  • Hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, pepitas, pecans, walnuts, etc.
  • Chipotle or hot sauce
  • Miso
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Fresh ginger
  • Tomato paste
  • Curry paste
  • Soy sauce & sesame seeds
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Insert item from your pantry here

This will keep, sealed, for up to a week in the fridge.

1 package extra-firm tofu
Green beans, enough to fill a soup bowl
1/2 onion, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup soy sauce or Bragg’s
Salt & pepper to taste

Rinse tofu and crumble into a colander. Let this sit on a plate or a bowl or in the sink while preparing the rest. Chop green beans horizontally so that they are no bigger than a pencil eraser. Press excess water from the tofu and turn into a mixing bowl. Add the vegetables and seasonings and mix well. Serve on rice cakes with Sriracha or other favored hot sauce.

2-3 servings

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