Thai Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese


A new spin on an old classic — grilled cheese and tomato soup. This tomato soup is spicy, creamy and full of Thai flavors (ginger, red curry, coconut milk). Perfect for any time of year. This would make a super easy weeknight meal — the soup itself can be ready in about 20 or so minutes and you can cook up the grilled cheese in the last few minutes.

I’ve never been a fan of the vegan cheeses (I’d generally prefer to not have cheese than have the vegan ones), but recently I turned a corner with Daiya when I realized that the trick is to only use a tiny bit. This grilled cheese has quickly become a favorite lunch item for me and it’s a perfect pairing with the spicy tomato soup.

Thai Tomato Soup: The Recipe

Serves 2 – 3

splash of vegetable oil or water

1 small/medium sweet onion, diced

1 TBLS fresh ginger, grated

~1 TBLS red Thai curry paste (you can get this at most Asian markets)

1 large can of diced tomatoes

1/2 CUP coconut milk (I used ‘Light’ coconut milk)

In a medium pot, sauté the onions for about 3-5 minutes in oil or water. Add the ginger and stir regularly for another couple of minutes. Stir in the curry paste. Add the can of tomatoes (liquid and all). Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and then blend with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor to puree (Note: you can skip this step if you prefer a chunky soup). Warm before serving, if not serving right away.

Grilled Cheese: The Recipe

Serves 1

2 slices of your favorite bread (I like Dave’s Killer Bread for this — The Good Seed kind is awesome)

a handful of shredded Daiya vegan cheese (or other vegan cheese of your choice – I like Daiya’s mozzarella or cheddar for this)

spread of vegan butter or margarine

Heat a pan on medium/low heat (not too high because it will burn the sandwich!). Spread butter/margarine on both pieces of bread. When the pan is hot, set one piece of bread on the pan, butter-side down, and sprinkle the cheese on (not too much, a thin layer is good enough). Place the other piece of bread on top of the cheese, butter-side up. Cook on each side for 3 minutes. Keep checking it; you want the bread to be crispy and nicely browned and the cheese should be melted. Cut in pieces and serve with the soup!



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Reader Poll: New E-Book Topic?

Happy Friday to you all! Things have been crazy busy here. This week is — no, was — spring break, and I had envisioned getting caught up on things that fell to the wayside during the last weeks of teaching last quarter and then having some time to relax and, you know, have a break. I had envisioned writing some new blog posts, taking some nice long naps, doing some gardening, cooking, and so on. But alas, the week is nearly over and I still have a monstrous to do list ahead of me. Oh well!

Anyway, all this to say that when I’m buried in work, I daydream about new fun projects to do. This week, I’ve been daydreaming about starting a new e-book.


If you missed the first one, you can read more about Gently Raw here. I realize that raw foods might not be for everyone, so I’d like to do a book that is focused on more cooked foods. Of course, it will be all vegan, delicious and accessible recipes, but I’m not quite sure what the theme should be!

Here’s where I’d like your help! What new e-book would you like to see? I’m listing the ideas I’ve had here and I would love it if you could comment below with your top picks. And, of course, if you have other ideas for e-books that you would love to see, let me know below!

1. Best of Serenity in the Storm (all of the most popular recipes from the blog with some brand new soon-to-be favorites)

2. Seasonal Recipes (a four-book series, one for each season, featuring in-season produce and flavors)

3. Comfort Food Recipes (recipes for those days when you want to eat something warm, satisfying and cozy)

4. Party Food (easy to eat party food recipes: birthday, baby shower, bridal shower, wedding, Superbowl, New Years Eve, etc.)

5. Brunch! (my personal favorite meal…sweet and savory breakfast and brunch recipes, with some fun drink ideas)

I would be so grateful if you could please comment below and let me know your thoughts. Got other ideas? I’d love to hear them!

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Cream of Broccoli Soup


A while back, a Serenity in the Storm reader wrote in to request an easy and quick cream of broccoli soup. I’ve been thinking about this recipe for a while and wanted to make something that had a really simple ingredients list and that didn’t use any substitutions (e.g., vegan cream, sour cream, etc.). I was surprised at how creamy this soup turned out, given that it is really just potatoes and broccoli. It cooks up in under 30 minutes and would make a great weeknight meal. It would also freeze well if you wanted to make a large batch and save some for later.

The Recipe

Serves 6-8

splash of water or oil

1 medium onion, diced

4 cups potato (russet or other variety), peeled and diced

8 cups broccoli florets

8 cups vegetable  broth (I like to use the Better Than Bouillon vegetable broth)

black pepper to taste

In a large pot, sauté the onions in water or oil until slightly soft. Add the peeled, diced potatoes and stir. Let cook for a few minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are slightly tender (about 7-10 minutes). Add the broccoli and simmer until the broccoli is tender (but still bright green). Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth (or transfer to a high speed blender or food processor). Add black pepper to taste. Reheat before serving. Bon appétit!

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Signs of Spring


It’s definitely feeling like spring here in Seattle. The crocuses are blooming all over the place.


They’re so cheerful and pretty.


And the daffodils (the little tiny ones) are just starting to bloom.


The rhubarb in our garden is sprouting. It looks so weird and wrinkly as it unfolds.


We have this lone little anemone blooming in our garden, too.


One of my favorite things about winter and spring in Seattle is the moss that grows everywhere and makes everything look so lush and green.


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Holy smokes. It’s been an entire month since my last post. February was a rough month over here. I won’t bore you with all the details, but we had quite a scare with Maizy — the vets thought she had lymphoma and I was back and forth to a range of specialists with her for ultrasounds, consultations, tests, and, eventually, an endoscopy. They wanted to do exploratory surgery to get a tissue sample, but thought there was a significant chance she wouldn’t survive the surgery, so we had the endoscopy done. Thankfully, she doesn’t have lymphoma, but she does have severe inflammatory bowel disease (like a canine form of Crohn’s) and she also had some rare parasite. When I went to the consultation about the endoscopy with an internist, he asked if I had heard about fecal transplants in humans. I had, and he was thrilled. Fecal transplants are basically when you get an enema of another person’s (healthy) feces to restore a healthy balance of flora in your gut. It’s been very effective in humans, and this vet was determined to do the research in dogs. He had already performed two canine fecal transplants with great success. There was no risk involved for Maizy, so I agreed to have him try the fecal transplant on her to see if it helped her digestive issues. When he was explaining the procedure to me, he said that first they do a regular enema to clean her out before they do the fecal enema. He said that there would only be a charge for the first enema. I said, “Oh, great, so the dog shit’s free?” We had a good laugh in the midst of what was an unbelievably stressful time. To make a long story short, we treated her for the parasite and now she is on a low grade steroid to help the IBD. Saoirse was super stressed out through the whole thing:


My revised dissertation was also due this month. Things got pretty grisly for a while there. The last weekend I was working on it, Eric was sick in bed with the flu or cold or something, and I was sick and sitting at my desk — delirious, but determined to get it done. In the end, I turned it in and have a break from it while my advisor reads this draft. Eden, especially, understood the exhausting nature of dissertation writing and found himself napping in the piles of books instead of actually writing anything:


Abigal is not much of an academic and prefers to roll around and make little bloopy noises to remind us that she requires a lot of attention:


During all the craziness, we got another dog bed for Saoirse. We have two large dog beds, but Maizy drags one on top of the other in ‘princess and the pea’ fashion and won’t let Saoirse lie on them, so we got a little bed for Saoirse. Of course, Maizy insists that this one, too, is hers even though she doesn’t fit very well:


Overall, we’re easing back into the world of the living over here. We cleaned the house this weekend for the first time in a month and things are starting to get back to our normal routine. Phew!

Hope you all have had a good month!

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En Vogue: From Feathers to Leather

This quarter, I’m teaching a class at University of Washington called ‘En Vogue: From Feathers to Leather’ about human and nonhuman animals in fashion. So far, we have spent the first four weeks focused on theoretical framing for the course and the human costs of the fashion industry, reading and watching documentaries about sweatshop labor, gender and race on the runway, and the shifting climate of the fashion industry from well-made lasting garments to fast-fashion. Like the food industry, the fashion industry has seen tremendous industrialization and acceleration of production, and consumers have responded by buying cheap, poorly made garments that end up being disposable within a season or two. The human labor, animal welfare, and environmental impacts have been tremendous.

Now, we are moving into the part of the course focused on nonhuman animals. This week is about giving some context for thinking about animal justice issues and we are reading one of my favorite texts for teaching: Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights by Bob Torres (If you haven’t read it, it’s high on my ‘recommends’ list). We are also reading the chapter on animals in fashion from Bleating Hearts by Mark Hawthorne. From there, we move on to three weeks of case studies, looking at the reality of the fur, leather, feather, and wool industries. Finally, on to thinking about activism and what we can do. I plan to do some posts about the specifics of teaching this quarter, but for now, here is the description of the course and a link to the syllabus below, if you’re interested in seeing the readings for the course and assignments, etc.:

Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle. Gucci, Armani, Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, Heidi Klum. Paris, New York, Milan. The modern fashion industry is an amalgamation of corporate media giants, designer brands, individual icons, and select urban centers. Fashion is also embodied in the functional, everyday choices we make about what to wear, how these articles of clothing contribute to the construction of our identities, and why we make the choices we do.

Thus, fashion is at once a celebration of the extraordinary, the astonishing, the unexpected and the ordinary, the mundane, the everyday. From the catwalks of Paris and Milan to the streets of Lynnwood and Tacoma, fashion—the clothing we wear—is connected to complex cultural, economic, political and ethical networks. And throughout time, animals have been deeply embedded at the heart of these networks through the use of their skin, their bones, their teeth, their hair, their feathers, their tails and other body parts in human fashion. These industries use various bodies and labor—human and animal—in commodity production.

Animal use is ubiquitous in fashion and this course uses animals and fashion as a lens to get at three important intellectual sites of inquiry: 1) It will offer students the chance to explore the complex political, economic, and cultural dimensions of a multi-billion dollar industry with relevance for their everyday experience, 2) it will encourage students to reflect on the personal, ethical, and intellectual dimensions of human/animal relations in specific empirical and more theoretically abstract ways, and 3) it will ask students to explore the ways in which aesthetics and a culture of consumption are deployed to obscure the exploitation of humans and animals alike in sites of commodity production. 

In addition to the more overt explorations of animal justice in the fur, leather, feather, wool, silk, and bone industries, the course material also addresses issues of human and environmental justice. Humans and the environment, like animals, are made vulnerable by the production and reproduction of fashion trends and the networks that promote these trends. Thus, students will begin by engaging with questions of vulnerable economies of export around the globe, sweatshop and child labor, environmental destruction and toxic effects of the fashion industry. An intersectional approach not only connects social justice issues of animals, humans and the environment to each other, but it also acts as a location for students to personally engage with these issues on their own terms. 

Students are asked to come to the first day of class having recently read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to spark a conversation about cultures of consumption and the power of aesthetics. Within the context of thinking about aesthetics and consumption, the first part of the course develops an empirical and theoretical base informed by a Marxist social anarchist critical theory and an intersectional approach to thinking about humans and animals in the fashion industry. Building on this framework the course will explore in four specific case studies of animal use in fashion—fur, feathers, wool and leather. Part 3 of the course is focused on thinking through how we think about ‘activism,’ ‘terrorism,’ and alternatives in the fashion industry. Finally, Part 4 is dedicated to students sharing what they’ve learned about their own chosen topics through in-depth final project presentations.


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Perpetual Mourning

Earlier this week, I witnessed a pigeon get run over by a car. Eric and I were in the car on our way to get some dinner and we noticed a pigeon in the middle of the street, wings flapping, struggling to right herself, clearly injured. In one instant, we took in the scene — the struggling bird in the middle of the street, feathers scattered everywhere. In the next instant, a car came whizzing by — oblivious to this creature’s plight — and flattened the pigeon into the pavement. The bird was dead. None of the other people around seemed to notice. The driver who killed the bird didn’t even brake; they just zoomed on, racing to get through the traffic light before it turned red.

* * *

I’m not sure when exactly, but some time, years ago, I entered into a state of perpetual mourning. I’ve talked to many activists and thinkers about this topic and most agree that when you open your eyes and see the world in all its violent messiness, when you see your own implicatedness in others’ suffering, when you see the colossal task before you of working against this suffering, you mourn. Mixed with this mourning is anger and disbelief (maybe a twinge of apathy and hopelessness) and if we’re lucky, sometimes, hope. Through all of this, though, there is mourning.

When I read Judith Butler’s books Precarious Life and Frames of War for the first time, I found language to understand this state of perpetual mourning. Grief is not merely a self-indulgent practice in wallowing in our emotional responses to devastating circumstance. Grief is a political statement. Grieving someone whose life and death is typically seen as ungrievable makes a statement that that individual life and death had meaning and value outside the system of capitalist accumulation. To mourn the pigeon run over by the car is to make a statement that all animals — even those commonly dismissed as ‘pests’ — are individuals with lives and deaths that matter. To mourn the cow used for dairy in her last moments before she collapses and dies at the auction yard makes a statement that her life was important. That these individuals were important. Not as producers of milk or a source of ground beef, not as ‘pests,’ but as fellow creatures making their way through the world.

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Review of ‘Bleating Hearts’ at The Kind Life


Good morning! Today I have a book review of Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering by Mark Hawthorne up at Alicia Silverstone’s site, The Kind Life. I hope you’ll hop on over there to read it. This book is extraordinary. Even as a committed animal advocate, I learned so much from it and found myself recommitted to working to end animal suffering around the world. This is on my ‘highly recommended’ list, so I hope you’ll check out the book.

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Jalapeño Poppers


I have to confess that Eric and I watched the Seahawks/49ers football game yesterday. This is so wholly out of character for us, and we kept commenting on how we should turn on a movie, but we were transfixed and just kept on watching. At one point, I found myself jumping up off the couch, saying increasingly loudly, “oh man, he’s running, he’s running, there he goes! He’s going! HOLY SHIT AND IT’S A TOUCHDOWN!!!”…It was pretty exciting.

Admittedly, we took advantage of the first hour of the game when everyone was at home watching to go to Costco. Best time ever to go there, if you must ever go [Costco is one of those errands I dread, along with the bank and the post office]. During the game, it was practically empty. Eric always likes to cruise the sample carts to see if they have any tasty snacks. I’ve gotten so irritated that nothing is ever vegan that I’ve just stopped checking. Yesterday, however, was amazing. They had daiya grilled cheese sandwiches (can you believe that?) and crackers and hummus and some other stuff that I’ve already forgotten about.

Anyway, something about football makes me think of jalapeño poppers and I started wondering about a vegan version. So I spent some time in the kitchen today and made some up. And you know what? They are pretty darn good. They use the same method of panko breading and oven-baking that I’ve grown to love (see onion rings and crunchy sweet potato fries). These are definitely the most high-maintenance of my three panko-breaded friends, but they are nice for a special treat.

The Recipe

Makes 12 large poppers

12 large fresh jalapeño peppers (or more small ones)


1 8-oz container of plain vegan cream cheese (I used Daiya)

1 CUP shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya’s mozzarella shreds, but any kind would work)

1/2 CUP vegan bacon bits (optional)

1/4 TSP smoked paprika

1/2 TSP garlic powder


1/2 CUP soy creamer or other nondairy milk

1/2 TBLS apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)

1/2 CUP flour

1 TBLS corn starch

1/2 TSP smoked paprika

1/2 TSP salt

1 1/2 CUPS panko bread crumbs

1 1/2 TBLS vegetable oil

Directions: Prep the jalapeños first, removing the seeds and membrane. This seed and membrane removal is what makes the peppers consumable in large quantities. Otherwise, they would be rip-your-face-off hot. The best way to do this is WITH GLOVES (I didn’t use gloves and my hands are still burning and puffy as I write this hours later). Cut the top off the jalapeño so you can see the seeds inside. Slice the jalapeño lengthwise on one side (not completely in half). See photo of stuffed peppers below to see what I’m talking about. With your fingers, pull out the seeds and membrane, getting them as clean as you can. Rinse the peppers off and leave them to drain in a colander while you prep the filling.

On to the filling. Mix the filling ingredients in a bowl (either by hand or with an electric mixture). You’re going for a cream cheese-like consistency. Now it’s time to stuff the peppers with the cheese mixture. Shake any excess water off the peppers before stuffing them (you don’t have to go crazy here; a little moisture helps the breading stick to the peppers). With a butter knife, spread the mixture into the peppers. Here’s what you’re going for:


Preheat oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, mix flour, paprika and 1/4 TSP salt. In another bowl, mix soy creamer and vinegar and stir. Add the cornstarch to the milk mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in half the flour mixture. In a third bowl, add the panko, the remaining 1/4 TSP salt and the oil and toss with a fork or your fingers to combine. You’ll have three bowls to dip the stuffed peppers in. The first is the flour mixture. The second is the milk mixture. And the third is the panko breadcrumbs. First, dunk the pepper in the flour, then the milk mixture, letting the excess liquid drip off before coating the pepper in the panko breadcrumbs. Lay the prepared peppers on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes and then gently flip the peppers over. Bake for another 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. They might explode the cheese filling a little. That’s okay! Let cool for a couple of minutes and serve while still hot.


NOTE: You can freeze these. Simply lay them on the parchment lined baking sheet as described above. Place the whole baking sheet in the freezer. When frozen, remove peppers and store them in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.


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Roasted Radishes


Does anyone reading remember the television program Faerie Tale Theatre with Shelley Duvall from the mid-1980s? They did these amazing performances of popular fairy tales. Rapunzel was one of my favorites and I have this vivid of memory of the beginning of that episode where Rapunzel’s mother, while pregnant with her, has this intense craving for these special radishes with blue leaves. Her husband, desperate to please her, climbs over the wall into the neighboring witch’s garden to steal the radishes growing there (of course there is a witch living next door). And of course, the husband gets caught by the witch and promises her their first born child. The rest is history — Rapunzel trapped in the tower, long hair, prince…you know, the whole nine yards.

These roasted radishes, more than any other radish dish I’ve ever had, remind me of that fairy tale.

The Recipe

Makes 1 bunch of radishes

1 bunch radishes (red are great; rainbow radishes are a special treat)

2 TSP coconut oil

pinch of salt

freshly ground black pepper

There are two options for preparing these. I like both methods for different reasons (see below). For both preparations, preheat the oven to 400° F.

Method 1: [For crunchier radishes and crunchier browned leaves] Wash radishes with their greens attached and pat dry with a clean dish towel. Toss with coconut oil, lay out on baking sheet/roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes.

Method 2: [For caramelized radishes and brighter crispy greens] Wash radishes and pat dry with a clean dish towel. Cut the greens off. Toss radishes with coconut oil, lay out on baking sheet/roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes. On a separate baking sheet, toss the greens with 1 TSP extra coconut oil and a little salt and pepper. Bake these for 5-7 minutes (hint: you can put them in the oven when the radishes have about 5 minutes or so left in the oven so you can serve them both hot together).

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