I remember when I first started the Zenful Kitchen reading a piece by Warren Caterson aka Chef Warren who wrote about being criticized at times for not having pictures in his blogs.  He had written one that had pictures which looked as if they were created on an etch a sketch.  (Yes Warren, I did read that blog post.)  It made me want to go out and buy an etch a sketch.  I understand what he was saying though. I know we eat with our eyes, or so I have been told, although some of my friends don’t look long enough to take it in, they just eat.

Not always having access to a camera (probably should put that on my wish list); sometimes I do not put pictures of my food with my blogs. One of these days, I will invest in one of my own or have a professional photographer in my life who is here taking photos as I am preparing something. I guess I could ask my now famous friend Billijo to take photos for me while I am cooking, at least until she moves back to Michigan or ask Zoë in advance so she can charge her camera. However, until I either have a camera of my own, a live in photographer, or recruit Zoë or Billijo to camp out in the kitchen, my reflections and recipes will continue without photos. So for those of you who read my ramblings and reflections, imagine the food as I am describing it.

I have been inspired lately to learn more about food and spices and expand my culinary horizons.  I am blessed in that my wife of almost 10 years, Zoë, has agreed to be the human canvas on which I experiment.  Several things inspired me. One was this chef on Top Chef Masters, Hugh, who as he was leaving the show talked about how he never gets tired of learning about food.  The other is this recurring dream I have been having about the movie Julie and Julia.  While I know virtually nothing about French cooking and not sure at the time I feel called to learn about it, I am feeling inspired to learn as much as I can about vegetarian and vegan cooking.  Another was this scene from the movie Up where his wife leaves him a note in her scrapbook telling him to start a new adventure. Cooking for me is like that, I am constantly learning and exploring and pushing my own boundaries.  The final source of inspiration was my physician, who after we talked about some of what I had been learning and cooking, suggested I work on a vegetarian diabetic cookbook.  Not all vegetarian or even vegan meals are diabetic friendly. With all this sitting in my spirit, I thought I would select a vegetarian cookbook, a comprehensive one and work my way through the cookbook, modifying it as I needed to, to make it diabetic friendly.  Zoë is in for some treats.  After hearing from quite a few of my vegetarian friends I decided on one that was written a few years ago, and seems to be considered a classic,  Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.  In my search, I have started a list of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks that would love to work through. It might be fun to learn vegetarian cooking from around the world.  However, for now, I am going to start with this one.

Until it arrives, I am going to keep on cooking the simple dishes that I do like my tempeh pitas, which never stay around long enough to take pictures and are so easy to make. Not always being in the mood for a pita, I recently started making this into a Greek Tempeh Vegetable Salad.

Greek Tempeh Vegetable Salad


1 (8 ounce) package tempeh
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
3-4 crushed garlic cloves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 lemon, juice of
1 large Cucumber, chopped
2 Roma (plum) Tomatoes, chopped
1 (5 ounces) jar pitted Kalamata Olives
1 (4 ounces) package Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 Red Onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 (10 ounces) package Romaine Lettuce Leaves
1/2 (10 ounces) package Baby Greens

Vinaigrette Dressing:
6 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Dried Basil
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1 1/2 cups Red Wine Vinegar


Slice tempeh medium thin. Marinate in olive oil, soy sauce, crushed garlic, dried oregano, and lemon juice. After at least 1 hour (I tend to do mine overnight) sauté in frying pan until crispy. Let cool slightly.

Add tempeh, chopped cucumber, chopped tomato, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, sliced red onion, romaine lettuce, and baby greens to large serving bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil, Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, and red wine vinegar. Pour on salad, toss gently, and serve.

So starting in July, I will begin writing my way through Madison’s book.  I am looking forward to taking my skills to the next level. Will I be including pictures? Probably not. Before I purchase my own camera, I am going to save up for a new set of knives and a few other kitchen tools I am craving.  I love learning, learning about food is just part of that, so I am excited about continuing this aspect of my education and hopefully you will enjoy learning with me.