If its Sunday …

It’s time to make the granola!

Sunday mornings are a great time to replenish our supplies, starting the new week with the slightly sweet nutty scent of fresh granola. I generally make a double recipe, divided between two jars. I have posted this Gluten Free granola recipe before.

Granola is delicious morning, noon or night – with raisins or other dried fruit, mixed in with yogurt, as a topping for ice cream … the combinations are nearly endless.

How do you like your granola?

Vegan Mint Chocolate Ice Cream

For some time I have been trying to ‘crack the code’ on a vegan ice cream including some combination of mint, chocolate and crunch. Until today I was not satisfied with the results; the proportions of the mint to chocolate were off, and there was no crunch. (I had earlier tried to make a classic chocolate chip mint, but the chocolate did not have the right melting temperature.)

This afternoon I tried again and as I watched the ice cream come together I could tell it was going to be smoother. That was a positive sign. When I was moving it from the ice-cream maker to the storage container to put it in the freezer I could really tell that this time was different, in a good way. And of course I had a small taste. As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Dear Reader, this one is good. The mint flavor is just strong enough, and not overpowering or medicinal. The chocolate flavor is enhanced by 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and for crunch I have added cocoa nibs (widely available in health food stores and online). With only 6 ingredients it is a quick project, although in full disclosure mint syrup is one of the primary ingredients, and should be made ahead. Mint Syrup is also super easy to make, and is not perishable, ie you can make it ahead and keep it in the refrigerator for several weeks (recipe also included below).


14 Oz / 400 gram coconut cream (can)

1 Cup Mint Syrup*

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

6 Tablespoons Cocoa powder

2 Tablespoons Vodka

4 Tablespoons Cocoa Nibs


  1. Mix all ingredients except for the Cocoa Nibs. A whisk is great for this – you really want to stir it well before adding it to your ice cream maker.
  2. Follow instructions for your ice cream maker, mixing the ice cream for approximately 20 – 30 minutes. Stir in the Cocoa Nibs 2 Tablespoons at a time at the end.
  3. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, add the chopped bittersweet chocolate and freeze the ice cream for 45 minutes, stir and repeat until the ice cream reaches the desired texture

    Also good with (GF) Granola!

    *Instructions for Mint Syrup: Heat 1.5 cups water, 1 cup mint and 3/4 cup coconut sugar (or other sweetener of your choice) over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let the syrup cool (30 minutes) before straining the mint. Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Crunchy Tofu Salad

You don’t have to sauté or marinade tofu to enjoy it. Whenever you find yourself short on time or just don’t want to cook, this is a super easy and delicious way to add healthy protein to a green salad. This is my favorite cold Crunchy Tofu Salad recipe, provided by special request. If you are still among the tofu-hesitant, I hope that this recipe for Crunchy (cold) Tofu Salad may tempt you to give it a try.

This one’s for you Lucy!

I am providing photos at every step to make it super-easy to get it right the first time; in fact it would be hard to ruin this recipe. You can add whatever vegetables seeds, or other add-ins you prefer.


12 oz fresh tofu (firm or extra firm)

1 large shallot or small onion (app. 1 oz)

2 cloves garlic

1 red or green Chile – chopped fine

2T Silan (Date Syrup) or whatever sweet-ish sauce you have in the fridge (or the packet drawer)

2T Miso, Tamari or Soy Sauce

3-4 Basil Leaves, julienned

Your choice of salad vegetables: lettuce, sweet pepper, cucumber, & carrot

1T Sesame seeds

Optional add-ins: flax seeds, cubed avocado, cubed Kohlrabi, crunchy noodles


  1. Cube approximately 12 ounces of tofu, cube it, and set it aside in a bowl while you make the dressing.

2. Make the dressing by chopping the shallot (or small onion), garlic and mixing them with the Silan, Miso/Tamari/Soy Sauce, Chile and julienned Basil.

3. Gently stir the dressing into the cubed Tofu and set aside while you cut the salad vegetables.

4. Chop Lettuce, Sweet Pepper, Cucumber and Carrots and place in a separate bowl large enough to hold everything.

5. Gently mix the Tofu (in dressing) into the salad bowl, sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy! (I also added Flax seeds.)

Let me know if you try this and how it goes!

Basic Vegan Sour Cream

Making vegan sour cream from silken tofu is more of an idea than a recipe; different iterations are readily available online. This is mine.

But first, the back story: While “veganizing” my favorite marble cake recipe requiring sour cream, I realized that I had no vegan sour cream on hand. I don’t like to buy it that often because whatever I don’t use immediately usually languishes in the back of the refrigerator. It occurred to me that there must be something that I had on hand that could be used in its place, and came upon a package of silken tofu. That was my “Eureka” moment, and I came to find a number of online vegan sour cream recipes based on silken tofu.

What could be easier than blending a package of silken tofu with one or two other ingredients for your own fresh vegan sour cream?


1 package firm or extra-firm silken tofu (12.3 oz / 349 grams)

2 Tbs white vinegar

1/4 tsp salt


Combine ingredients in a jar deep enough for use of with an immersion (stick) blender. Doing this in a jar both avoids having to transfer the sour cream to a storage container and also prevents spattering.

That’s it!

Basil Cloning for Late Bloomers

Here in Zichron Yaakov the days are cooler and we have had a little overnight rain. It is still mostly sunny with a pleasant breeze – this is what passes for fall in Israel’s Carmel Coastal Plain – warm days and cool evenings. My basil plants are a bit “leggy,” presaging the end of fresh basil season. This has been my experience over the years and I had no idea that there was any alternative.

Imagine my surprise to learn that it is possible to rejuvenate basil plants through cloning on my kitchen counter.

With no prior experience, I came upon cloning by accident: A few weeks ago when I collected some fresh basil for cooking, I found that I had several nice sprigs leftover. I stuck the extra basil in a glass with water and promptly forgot about them. Over the course of the next week, I used an occasional leaf. Then the next time that I checked, I was surprised to see the start of a new root system and additional leaf growth. After a few more weeks I planted the expanded sprigs with root systems, and they have taken off.

For those who care about the details, cloning is asexual reproduction, creating a clone or copy of the earlier plant from which a sprig is taken, without use of seeds. They would look even better if I were to cut off the top to help them branch out, however you can really see the difference between the new clones and the donor plants.

Two basil clones
My “Leggy” Basil

Cloning duplicates plants; in my experience my cloned basil plants appear stronger, with larger and more attractive leaves than those of the “donor” plant. Above is an example of an existing basil plant at the end of the summer – leggy, with small leaves.

This is the time of year where basil also tends to flower and go to seed. For effective cloning, it is important to select a small sprig that is not flowering, like the one below.

Leggy basil with a nice blossoming sprig suitable for cloning.

Unlike growing basil from seeds / seedlings, apparently you can grow basil from clones at any time of year.

(Over the years I have found growing basil from seed a bit onerous – it takes a long time and can be disappointing. My usual routine is to start with seeds in the spring, and usually end up also planting seedlings over a period of weeks or months. Actually I find that when I finally go out and get the seedlings, then the seeds I planted seem to do a bit better and I end up with both.)

After my first experience, I decided to do it again. Above are photos of my second cloning experiment – two additional sprigs taken from the old basil plants that have grown well and now also are in their own pot.

With cloning, you don’t have to be an avid gardener to enjoy fresh basil at any time of the year. Even if you don’t have space for a container garden, it should be possible to grow your own basil plant from a sprig taken from store-bought basil.

Later I found a wealth of online resources relating to cloning plants – obviously I am late to the party. Here is a link for those who want more on the science of plant cloning.

It has been a lot of fun for me to learn a little bit about cloning. So here I am in 2nd Middle Age with decades of gardening experience and also still a novice. How great is that?

I am sharing this for other “late bloomers” like me who may find the information helpful. Wherever you are reading this – whether the weather may be cold and damp, or warm and sunny – I hope that you also may enjoy a small pot of basil on your windowsill, balcony, patio.

Literally all you need is a few sunny spot (a few square inches) that is not too cold, a glass of water and a sprig of basil. And for anyone with children at home, it is a fun small science experiment – a great way to show how plants can reproduce without seeds / seedlings. Please let me know If you try this at home.

I would love to post photos of your basil clones!

All of my basil clones – so far!

Training for Life

As we move forward, we realize that the things that have worked before either may not be appropriate or may not be enough at every stage of life. Following graduation from the University of Michigan Law School I moved to Chicago and jogged along Lake Michigan, dreaming of training for a Marathon. I had no idea what adventures lay ahead.

These days my life is here in Zichron Yaacov, a town founded 140 years ago and nestled between the Carmel mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel’s largest botanic garden Ramat HaNadiv is only a few minutes away, and is surrounded by a protected area left largely in its natural state – including significant archaeological sites with their explanations posted for visitors. Two to three mornings a week I go there with a friend to walk in nature.

When we moved back from Jerusalem in February of 2021, I started walking by myself in the early am hours in Zichron Ya’akov both as a way to explore the neighborhood (where we were house-hunting)as well as to get back into shape – to lose the weight I had gained during COVID lockdowns. Even in the middle of town I found stunning views.

Within a few months my friend had joined me and we began our habit of walking at Ramat HaNadiv. The walking has been great for body and soul, however we realize that it is not enough.

Now at the advanced age of 62 and a half, I know that I am training to walk to the bathroom in my 80s and beyond. That is the real Marathon.

Walking / hiking promotes cardiovascular health, and yoga can be great for balance, flexibility and mindfulness. For many years I had an established yoga practice at Unity Woods, in Bethesda MD – by far the best studio I have ever found for Iyengar Yoga. After Aliyah in October 2018, I participated with my son in a local therapeutic yoga program from stellar teacher and dear friend Maya Saxton. Then after our move to Jerusalem I connected with another excellent Iyengar studio, however with all of the COVID displacement I lost the thread. Now I am renewing my practice here with a Vijnana yoga – a wonderful branch of yoga developed by Orit Sen Gupta that I learned about during an all too brief Jerusalem sabbatical in 2012.

Particularly during 2nd Middle Age, the missing piece of the puzzle for me has been strength training, and so at the beginning of September I started a weight training program – with light weights – to strength my core and upper body. Four weeks in, I am happy with initial progress and encouraged to continue weight training as an important part of my fitness program.

Still walking may always my most most accessible, familiar and – thanks to my good friend – social fitness habit. Earlier this week following the Rosh HaShana (Jewish New Year) holiday, we decided to head to the Nachsholim beach for our early am walk, ending with our shoes off in the surf. It was an amazing experience and reminded me yet again that I have only begun to scratch the surface of the beauty around me.

That is the other enduring challenge – to truly appreciate the beauty along the way.

Papaya Salad with Tofu

Thai-Style Papaya Salad with Tofu

This is a Thai-Style salad that I have adapted from the amazing Thai Vegetarian Cooking (1991) by Vatharin Shumichitr. I can’t claim that it is truly Thai; I did not follow the recipe exactly, both because of the ingredients that I had on hand, and our preferences. It was still delicious!

True story: During my time on the Visa line at the Embassy of London in Grosvenor Square – when dinosaurs walked the earth – I encountered my share of celebrities, including Mr. Vatharin Chimichitr. He needed an American Visa for his upcoming (non-vegetarian) US cookbook tour. Of course I approved his visa, and also informed him – with apparent seriousness – that the next time he wanted an American Visa he should publish a Vegetarian Cookbook. That was in 1989. Much to my surprise, within two years he published this amazing vegetarian cookbook. – it must already have been in the works. And it is just wonderful.

My slightly battered, much loved Thai Vegetarian Cooking (1991)

While we lived in Washington DC Green Papaya Salad was readily available in our local Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. Here in Israel it has been harder to find. So this week when our local organic farm Bein Hatlamim – translating literally to “Between the Furrows” – offered papayas and promised to pick out one of the most green for me, I jumped at the chance to try to make Papaya Salad at home. ( I have written before about this amazing farm here. )


1 Shallot, sliced

1 block of Tofu (app. 233 grams which is approximately 1/2 pound)

3 – 4 Tbs Oil for sautéing the Tofu

1/2 Under-ripe Papaya (app. 435 grams or is nearly a pound)

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Chopped fresh chilis or Chili Sauce (to taste)

3Tbs fresh lemon juice

3Tbs Tamari or Soy Sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 Tbs chopped toasted peanuts

1 Red Pepper (Sweet) seeded, sliced

Several large green outer lettuce leaves (Romaine works really well), trimmed and washed


  1. Cut the tofu into rectangular slices suitable for topping your Papaya Salad (we like 1″ x 2″ slices.)
  2. Sautee the tofu and chopped shallot over medium heat until the tofu slices are golden brown on each side.
  3. While the tofu is browning, peel and grate the Papaya, and then place the grated papaya in a measuring cup or bowl. (Mine was green outside; after I peeled it I saw it was orange inside. The main thing is that it should be under-ripe.)
  4. Stir together the marinade: garlic, chilis to taste, lemon juice, Tamari (or Soy Sauce or Braggs Aminos – whatever you prefer), and sugar.
  5. Add the marinade to the grated papaya.
  6. Assemble your Papaya Salad: If you have a decorative serving dish you have been saving for something special, this is the time to use it! Line the serving dish with the outer lettuce leaves, layering the grated papaya in its marinade on top of the lettuce. Place the sautéed tofu and shallots on top of the papaya. Garnish with the (sweet) red pepper slices and sprinkle the chopped peanuts on top.


Vegan Tahini Fudge Ice Cream

Tahini Fudge Ice Cream with Granola

This is one vegan ice cream that delivers. If you are looking for a decadent double-chocolate ice cream that really satisfies – without dairy or added sugar – look no further!


400 ml / 14 oz Coconut Cream (1 can)

3/4 Cup Silan

1/2 Cup Cocoa

1 Cup Tahini

1 Tsp Vanilla

1 Tbs Vodka (to help maintain texture – optional)

50 grams / 1.75 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped 


  1. Stir together all ingredients except for the bittersweet chocolate.
  2. Follow instructions for your ice cream maker, mixing the ice cream for approximately 20 – 30 minutes. Stir in the chopped bittersweet chocolate at the end.
  3. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, add the chopped bittersweet chocolate and freeze the ice cream for 45 minutes, stir and repeat until the ice cream reaches the desired texture.

Especially good with (GF) Granola!

Gluten Free (GF) Passover Granola with Quinoa Flakes

Substituting Quinoa flakes (available from organic / health food stores) for rolled oats makes for a delightful granola with no more work and great taste. Not exactly a miracle, but pretty exciting in my house!

Passover Granola with Quinoa Flakes Replacing Rolled Oats

We miss Granola during Passover when easy breakfasts without eggs, cheese or matzot are elusive. There are of course other Passover Granola recipes; I was looking for a way to make granola on the cooktop the way that I make it throughput the year without adding oil, and with little added sugar/sweeteners. I absolutely did not want to make granola with matzah farfel and was looking for something with a similar shape and crunch of rolled oats – a tall order I know.

And I am not the world’s greatest Quinoa fan, however I read about Quinoa Flakes and thought that was worth a try. Smaller than rolled oats, Quinoa Flakes have have a similar shape and a great crunchy taste. So yesterday evening I gave it a go, and this morning we enjoyed our Granola with Quinoa Flakes for breakfast.

Toasted Quinoa Flakes

Dear Reader, it worked! It is crunchy and delicious – no tails, no added fats and lower in sugar than recipes cooked inside the oven. For Passover I have omitted sesame and flax seeds and added additional nuts to mix and match based on your Kitnyot preferences. Some people who happen to live in my house think that adding raisins (or any other fruit) is a travesty, so dried fruit remains optional.


1/4 Cup raw sunflower seeds

1/3 Cup broken cashew pieces, walnuts, almonds and/or other raw nuts

1/3 cup chopped almonds

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1 1/2 Toasted Quinoa Flakes (I found these in a box at our local Anise Store)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 Cup shredded coconut (optional)

1/4 tsp. salt

2 T brown sugar

1/3 Cup raisins or other dried fruit (optional)

This recipe is easiest to prepare in a large pan with relatively high sides.  The ingredients have a tendency to scatter while being stirred, and a high-sided frying pan, wok or a wide sauté pan is ideal for keeping them in the pan.  

1.  Over low heat, stir together the cashew pieces, and sunflower seeds.  Stir for five to ten minutes, until the oats and cashew begin to brown.  If in doubt, taste a sunflower seed.  It should taste almost done. 

2.  Next, add the remaining nuts, and stir together with the toasted Quinoa Flakes.   Stir for another five to ten minutes, and stir in the cinnamon.

3. Add the shredded coconut and stir for two to three minutes. before adding in the salt.

4. Turn off the heat and add the brown sugar.  Mix well to evenly distribute them among the other Ingredients.

4.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before adding raisins or other dried fruit (if desired).  Store in an airtight container to maintain freshness.  Enjoy!

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