Quick Baked Potatoes in the Microwave

It’s hard to imagine that potatoes would taste fine cooking them in the microwave instead of baking them but they’re wonderful once you get the knack. The first time I tried it, I almost blew out my microwave. The reason? The potatoes were too dry. The microwave thought it was on fire. It almost was. That problem was easily solved. I put the potatoes on a plate and added a little water. I experimented slowly with the timer and now I’ve got it down.

This method is perfect for making hash browns without really frying them. Microwave the potatoes until soft. Cool, then slice them and throw them into a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil on the bottom. You might want to throw chopped onions into the skillet first. Because the potatoes are already cooked, you don’t need to cook them very long. The more oil you use, the browner and crustier the potatoes will be but oil is high calorie so be careful. They’re just as tasty with a little bit of oil. Once the onions have been cooked, crack your eggs and stir them in. Keep the heat down on the skillet. The hotter it is, the more the eggs and potatoes stick to the skillet.

This microwave method is also effective for baking yams. I love yams. Not just because they taste good but because they provide nutrition galore. They are the ultimate fast food. We must eat vegetables and we must get our vitamin A. Put two yams on a plate with a little water on the plate and press start. For those days when we’re too lazy to make a salad or chop and steam broccoli, yams are a blessing.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available herehttp://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

Avoid Post-Holiday Fatigue: Cook Beans and Legumes for Quick and Easy Wholesome Meals

If we let our diet slide during the holidays, it’s important to get back into the swing of things. Beans and legumes are a great place to start. When I’m fatigued, a bowl of chili gives me strength. This time of year, when it gets dark early, we need all the help we can get. Help yourself by keeping them around.

Those of us who prepare the meals, love it when we have ingredients in the fridge that we can whip up. Problem is, prepared foods are expensive and probably not as fresh. Vegetarians rely on beans, legumes, nuts and grains as staples. Keep containers of cooked beans and legumes in the fridge. Knowing that there’s a container of cooked lentils in the fridge that you can turn into a nice easy meal, might keep you from eating unhealthy fast foods. Here are some ideas:

Lentils: a can of tomatoes and a bag of frozen vegetables, seasoned with a
bit of olive oil and soy sauce, make a nice soup. Or roll them into
tortillas with salsa.

Garbanzos: Throw garbanzos in with spring salad mix, tomatoes and avocados. Or make a soup from cooked garbanzos whirled in the blender with a big chopped onion. Simmer it and season with a spoonful of olive oil and soy sauce. Serve with a tasty bread.

Black beans: these cooked beans make great burritos but another options is
to serve them with cooked brown rice. They’re a little bit dry so load them up with salsa and add soy sauce. Sour cream and black beans are also tasty.

There are days when we don’t feel motivated. When it happens, remember… beans and legumes are our best friends.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available herehttp://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

Have a Very No-Nazi Christmas, Thank You Very Much…

When my family was visiting London in 2006, my son’s girlfriend Marla insisted on seeing Trafalgar Square. It was a long walk from where we were but fair is fair. It’s what she wanted to see, so we obliged. She was vague about why she wanted to see it and no one asked. We were all too busy taking in the sights that London offers. When we got there, no one was there. I remember cement and statues amidst a quiet atmosphere. Since then, I’ve heard Trafalgar Square mentioned many times in the news. It’s the location of numerous historic demonstrations and the site itself pays tribute to a sea battle where Britain fought French and Spanish fleets (at the same time) on the Southwest coast of Spain in October of 1805. Britain lost no ships and demolished a substantial amount of those belonging to France and Spain.

Fast forward to today. No wait, let’s go back to 1947, after World War II. This was the first year that Norway, grateful for England’s role in defeating the Nazis, presented Britain with a Christmas tree. Today, Norway’s continued gift of a Christmas tree stands in Trafalgar Square as a testament to the friendship between the two countries and a world free of Nazism.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Herr Boy, available here: