I really love January. To me, this month has a bright and sparkling clean feel to it. And even though the start of a new year is purely symbolic, it can be such great time to set some concrete intentions and start making lasting changes or small steps in a new direction. This year, much like the past few years, Im inspired to simplify, minimize, and really think about the things that I bring into my life, and my impact as a consumer. In the past few years, weve tackled food waste and figured out a way to compost food scraps thats sustainable for us. Weve also done away with a lot of store-bought household products like paper towels and most single-purpose cleaning products, but there is still a lot of work to do in that area.
Of course I find that cooking at home is always a top priority when it comes to simplifying in a sane way. Being prepared, having tried and true recipes and techniques under my sleeve, and having some trusted meal components stocked in the fridge or pantry always leads to less stress, less waste, and more enjoyment throughout the week. This Mushroom Tempeh Stroganoff doesnt have any particular ties to these January musings, beside the fact that its a cozy, wintery recipe that Ill gladly plan to cook on any given week this winter. Its a nostalgic flavor for us, since our family in Russia cooked it quite a bit, but we think that this plant-based version is even better than the original :)
Below Im sharing some of my plans, projects Id like to tackle, and resources that Ive found to be super inspiring when it comes to simplifying, minimizing my impact and beyond. Would love to hear yours!
Goals: projects Id like to tackle and a few (small but impactful) new habits Id like to form this year
Stop buying single-purpose household cleaning products and make my own, super simple ones (key words: super simple). I already do this by making a 1 part vinegar, 1 part water all-purpose cleaner that I use on pretty much all surfaces. I sometimes infuse the vinegar with citrus peels for a week or add a few drops of essential oils for a more refreshing scent. That cleaner works really well for most things. But Id like to make a few more site-specific mixes as well, since I sometimes panic and end up buying some shower cleaner I dont actually need. Simply Living Well is an amazing resource for easy, home-care recipes. Im going to make this shower spray, this floor cleaner, and this glass/window cleaner. All those recipes have really basic, interchangeable ingredients, which keeps them from being overwhelming. Please let me know if you have a favorite homemade laundry detergent recipe still trying to figure that one out.
Repair things I have before buying new. Ive always liked doing stuff with my hands, so for me this is an inherently relaxing activity that Id like to make more time for. Right now, our linen duvet cover has decided to rip in many places at once, and instead of buying a new one, the plan is to mend it properly with tonal patches, which can look really cool. Julie ORourke has a super comprehensive darning and mending tutorial here in her IG stories (just flip through the doll-making part). Her whole account is super dreamy as well.
Make a pot of beans every single week. Ive noticed that every time I make a big batch of beans, I end up thanking myself over and over again for all the easy meals Ive made possible with that one step. I like to cook the beans with aromatics so that I also end up with a delicious broth that I can either eat with the beans or use later for soups, etc. Different kinds of beans yield such different flavor/cooking potential, so its easy to switch them up every week without getting bored. For example, I cook chickpeas with aromatics, then have them for dinner in their broth with greens and maybe other veggies wilted in. I freeze some of the broth to use later as veggie stock. I then eat the chickpeas as is in veggie bowls/salads, make hummus with them, marinate them, make crispy chickpeas, or make falafel/veggie burgers. You can of course do all of this with canned beans, but home-cooked ones are much tastier, more cost effective, less wasteful if you buy them in bulk, and the broth that you get from cooking them is super valuable! If I find that I cant use up all of the beans, I just freeze them in their broth and again set my future self up for success. We have a lot of meal plans centered around whole pots of beans here.
75 Ways to Create a Low-Waste Home from Simply Living Well and Zero Waste, Plastic Free Alternatives Master List from Paris to Go are chock-full of ideas to slowly chip away at.
Jessies Produce Prep Ebook is such a wonderful guide to reducing food waste and enjoying the abundance of the plant food world.
Mama Eats Plants is the queen of low-waste living, vegan cooking, and a generally mindful lifestyle.
Live Planted is a great, short-format podcast about a practical approach to a low-waste lifestyle and much more.
This One Part Podcast interview with Kathryn Kellogg of Going Zero Waste is so full of positivity and details some actionable steps most of us can implement to decrease waste.
- 1 8 oz package tempeh - crumbled
- 2 teaspoons tamari
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- cup cashews - soaked to soften if no high-speed blender
- 1 tablespoon white or chickpea miso
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup purified water
- sea salt
- black pepper
- avocado oil or other cooking oil of choice
- 1 yellow onion - diced
- 4 garlic cloves - minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 6 oz portobello mushroom caps (about 3 medium) - sliced into long strips
- cup red wine
- 10-12 oz any pasta of choice
- fresh parsley - for serving (optional)
- Put the crumbled tempeh in a bowl. Pour the tamari and maple syrup over it, mix and let sit while making the cashew sauce.
- In an upright blender, combine the cashews, miso, mustard, apple cider vinegar, water, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until very smooth. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust if needed. Set aside.
- Heat some oil in a large saut pan over medium heat. Add the tempeh and stir once to coat with the oil, then let sit uninterrupted for 2-3 minutes, until the undersides are browned. Mix and let sit again for another 3-5 minutes, until browned. Push the tempeh to one side of the pan, if your pan is large enough, or transfer back to a bowl and set aside until later.
- Add more oil to the pan. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and saut for 7-8 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, rosemary, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes, if using. Stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, along with another pinch of salt. Saut until the mushrooms are browned and all the liquid that they release has evaporated, about 8-10 min. Mix the tempeh back in. Add the wine, bring it up to a simmer, and let reduce for about 3 minutes. Add the cashew sauce, stirring it and letting it warm through for a few minutes. Taste for salt and adjust if needed.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente in well-salted water, according to the directions on the package. Reserve about 1 cup of starchy pasta water for thinning out the sauce. Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the pan with the stroganoff. Start mixing the pasta with the sauce, adding splashes of the starchy pasta water to thin out the sauce and to get it to stick to the pasta, as needed. Enjoy right away, garnished with parsley, if using.