DIY Gardening

One Garden Plot, early May 2009

A little over a month ago, we started to re-plant our garden.

In magnitude, our garden lies somewhere between the biggest “serious” suburban gardens in Richmond and the small casual gardens. We grow mostly conventional vegetables and herbs, although this year we have a large (40+ bulb) plot of garlic! We have a few flowers and shrubs for aesthetic charm as well.

The technique we use for our main flowerbeds is called “Square Foot Gardening” from a book by Mel Bartholomew. SFG is a terrific technique for people with a small plot of land that want to maximize their yield and minimize the maintenance. (Our land parcel in southside Richmond is just under half an acre, I think, and most of that is occupied by our house.) Continue reading

Green Gear: The Food Processor

Green Gear is a series where we discuss different kitchen tools, how they can be used with Veg*n cooking, and some other helpful tips about them.

Food Processor & SpicesWe bought our first Food Processor when we got married, a little over two years ago. It was an Oster model; I think it held 10 cups. We bought it with some wedding money.

After we got it, we quickly began to wonder how we had ever functioned without one. We used it so much, it rarely sat clean and dry on our counter for long, and more often than not would be rinsed in the sink only to be used again immediately.

We used it so much that after about 2 years, the handle broke and it had to be jury-rigged to function for the last 5 months. Then we got our new beautiful model (pictured): Continue reading

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes

Happy Valentine’s Day! This is one of my all-time favorite dishes. 

Back when I would eat meat, I used to love it when my mom would make Sloppy Joe’s (we called them “Barbecue”), which generally involved a pound or two of ground beef, some spices, and other goodies.

Fortunately, this is one of the entrees that has a terrific homologue in the domain of vegetarianism. The recipe we use is from the New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, a book Mel picked up either at a library book sale or through The recipe goes like this: Continue reading

Review: Great Wall (takeout)

UPDATE: A commenter below reported that she determined their soups are made from chicken stock. Because of this, and the general opinion below,  this has been moved to the “bad restaurants” list.

The other night, Melissa was really wanting Chinese takeout; specifically “Vegetable Fried Rice”.  Through a somewhat random decision, I decided to get takeout from Great Wall over on the west side of town (by EZ Pawn).

We ordered a quart of Vegetable Friced Rice, an order of “Crab cheese angles*”, and a pint of Vegetable Lo Mein. 

I don’t have the menu handy at the moment, but we’ll put up the vegetarian run-down up here soon. There was a fair selection of vegetarian items. I imagine that if you wanted to make a substitution, and it was simple enough that the language barrier wasn’t a problem, you could probably do it. (I’ve had other restaurants substitute tofu for chicken on a couple items before.)

I would not recommend this restaurant (for takeout).
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Making it Stick: Succeeding as a Veg*n

One phrase that I’ve heard dozens of times is “Oh, I used to be a vegetarian, but…” Some people say it remorsefully, almost out of failure, that they just couldn’t hack it. Others say it in the same disdainful way that people announce that they “used to listen to Britney Spears.”

There are a lot of reasons why making a lifestyle switch like this can fail. Swearing off meat is a big change, and we veg*ns are unfortunately in a minority, so a lot of times we’re going at it alone. But there are a few things you can do, strategies, approaches, or whatever you want to call them, that may help you avoid the pitfalls that end up in a wistful “used to be a vegetarian” story. Continue reading

Mel’s advice to a young vegetarian

One of the reasons that Aaron and I set up this website is because as soon as people find out that our family is vegetarian we’re inundated with lots of questions about what we eat, why we eat the way we do and how others can make better food choices. We don’t mind answering questions, of course — and it began to make sense to have one point-of-reference to direct the local veg-curious crowd.

Often people say to us, “I would like to be a vegetarian, but…” or even “I would like to eat less meat, but…” For lots of reasons that vary from philosophical to health, indulging in a plant-based diet may be one of your goals too. This is my top three tips to new vegetarians and those looking to just cut some meat out of their diets:

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