oh man

July 27, 2009 at 3:42 pm (thinking, this and that)

I am feeling really weird and uncomfortable today. Since our new apartments are so much smaller, we are giving away a ton of our furniture, all of which I really liked. And our washing machine and dryer. I know this is a good thing, but I feel a little bit like I’m being forced into a weird new shape without really being ready or OK with it. We are keeping lots of nice things, like our tea chest, and the coffee table my parents mosaic-ed back in the 1970s, and the dresser I bought with one of my first paychecks from my first real job. . . but I just watched our nice TV stand, our coffee table, an end table the cats loved, and some other things drive away. John and I built that household aesthetic together, and. . . I dunno. That is definitely done now. None of the stuff we’re getting rid of are antiques but I liked them, and so I feel a little strange. I know they will be loved in their new homes, and that is good, but the part of me that likes stability and comfort and being around the same stuff is confused and feeling really unhappy right now. OK, I’m done whining now.


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because they can’t speak

July 20, 2009 at 9:45 am (thinking, vegan living)

I know I’ve been blogging a lot about vegan things as of late, but many things in the news and in my life have inspired me to revisit why I am vegan, rather than just linger, statically, in that state. In Boulder, once we move there, I hope to join up with a few vegan organizations to do more outreach, and a news article I saw today sums up why it is so important to me to do so.

This article was posted on the PPK this morning. Basically, a woman bought a five-legged puppy for $4,000 to save it from being sent to a freak show. This story is heartwarming, but it is also disturbing on a number of levels. One, it is completely insane to me that animal freak-shows still exist, that the freak-show operator was going to spend $3,000 for the privilege of exhibiting and exploiting this animal, and that the cost of rescuing this animal was so high. I think this woman did a great deed in rescuing Lilly (the puppy in question), but frankly, I think stories like this are ultimately problematic.

This dog deserves a good life, but so do all dogs. As much as we might “aww” over this tale of love this is only one dog, and there are so, so many other animals, perfectly healthy animals, languishing in shelters, with adoption fees of far less than $4,000. It makes me wonder about human nature, why humans are so good in a crisis, but so terrible with invisible problems that can be safely ignored and tucked away.

The woman who adopted the puppy had this to say about her reasons for spending so much money: “I felt like I needed to be an advocate for her because she can’t speak.”

Well, that is an awesome quote, and even though this woman might not be vegan (I don’t know), this sentiment is the core philosophy behind being vegan, at least to me. I truly believe veganism is living one’s desire to be an advocate on behalf of the voiceless. Veganism is about pushing aside your “bacon fever,” or desire for constant convenience, or your personal taste, or cognitive dissonance regarding factory farms, or perhaps just blindness toward the fact that animals have feelings, desires, hopes, societies, morals, and hearts just like us, and extending compassion toward the oppressed group of the entire animal kingdom. It is about realizing no one is too busy to be vegan, or that there is nothing stopping someone who works on behalf of the rights of human animals to extend that compassion outward toward all animals. It is about really thinking about how the dogs that are cooped up in shelters, hopefully triggering our sympathy to adopt them, are leading infinitely better lives than the pigs (who are of comparable, if not greater intelligence) who are  are slaughtered every day.

I know humans are capable of great and inspiring compassion, and love, and selflessness. I just wish more humans would be open to exploring that compassion, love, and selflessness with animals other than kitty cats and puppy dogs and other creatures considered “pets” instead of “dinner.”

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going vegan, staying vegan

July 13, 2009 at 2:40 pm (thinking, vegan living)

Yesterday I found out that two of my favorite professors have gone vegan. This happy piece of news inspired me to post about some of my thoughts that came up last week regarding going vegan versus staying vegan.

I recently had a conversation with my homedogg Shawn over at Romantic Scribbles about dealing with the “difficult issues” of belief systems, and how while dealing with such things is occasionally painful, annoying, or disturbing, it is an essential step to meaningful, lasting change. Shawn is dealing with these challenges in his work as a youth minister at a church that puts a high value on relevancy, and was saying that some churches that cater to the come-as-you-are, modern crowd occasionally are reluctant to talk about harder questions of faith. In his opinion, shying away from the more uncomfortable topics leaves people in a place of doubt and frustration when they are inevitably confronted with those questions, and how if people never learn to deal with those issues they might think that their faith/belief system is simply incapable of making sense of the world. Shawn was, at the time, speaking specifically of the question of homosexuality in Christian thought, since it is a hot-button topic these days, and there is obviously immense (and not unwarranted)  tension between the gay community and the Christian community. This in turn made me think about dealing with the difficult issues in veganism.

I suppose I should post a disclaimer before progressing: the organizations I am about to critique have gotten more people to go vegan than I ever will. I am aware that they have both done more good in the world than I could ever hope to do, and I appreciate (sometimes– more on that later) their hard work and dedication. But I think no one is beyond critique, and I also think that though these organizations are doing a lot of good they are also doing a lot of harm, as well.

I find that in the vegan community there is also a great deal of anxiety over how to talk to people about complicated questions regarding abstaining from animal-based products. I don’t personally think there is a philosophically on-point organization out there in terms of confronting the realities of vegan life, either going vegan or staying vegan, or dealing with diplomatic, reasonable, and effective vegan outreach. Today I will (thrillingly) address the two largest organizations, and what I see as their shortcomings in vegan philosophy.

First of all, there is PeTA, which is an organization that I feel has done more to harm the vegan cause than any group of people ought to do, but that’s another post. PeTA, especially PeTA2, is actually really great at getting people to go vegan (especially that coveted ‘tween’ age group). They have awesome merchandise: t-shirts, stickers, and other stuff, all with their brand of catchy sloganeering (the “I am not a nugget!” campaign is especially attractive), and their website is flashy and cool and looks like every advertisement at Hot Topic or wherever. PeTA may have good “action alerts” for those who don’t realize that McDonald’s is bad for animals, or that Versace uses fur or something, but PeTA is really terrible at keeping people vegan. Why? Because PeTA is (1) problematic in that it focuses its energy in truly bizarre places, (2) easy to ridicule, especially by people who realize it’s perhaps a bad idea to pretend that it helps animals to resort to lowest-common-denominator advertising that makes women into the meat we’re supposed to be avoiding (as well as having a rotten track record for sensitivity to women’s issues in general), or is just outrageously offensive and in poor taste, and (3) doesn’t deal with the tough issues.

One of the things that I find that PeTA does wrong is take the “it’s so easy to be vegan!” tack. Now, I’m not saying it’s hard to be vegan– in fact, I think it is remarkably easy given how hostile to veganism the world sometimes seems to be– but it’s not always easy, and PeTA doesn’t do a lot to address that. Being vegan is remarkably easy when you’re surrounded by vegans. Being vegan is not so easy when your family doesn’t support you (especially as a child, tween, or teen without money to buy your own groceries or advocate for the restaurants your family goes to), or when your friends are assholes about it, or when it’s Thanksgiving and you realize for the first time you don’t get to eat mom’s turkey or Aunt Josephine’s homemade mac-n-cheese and everyone really wants you to join in. Times like that it’s easy to think things like “well, it’s already been paid for” or “once won’t hurt” or some such. While that’s probably true in an objective sense, to eat something “just once” is dishonest to one’s self and one’s belief system that absolutely can address those kinds of problems in very real and very compelling manners, and is the result of a lack of a thorough exploration of the ideology behind veganism that is rooted in the terrible suffering of animals to bring us such treats as Thanksgiving dinner or birthday cake. Images, even the most terrible images, fade, but reason sticks with you.

What PeTA does right is that it gets people to go vegan. Hell, they got me to go vegan: once in college for about half a day, and then for real in ’06 when I really made the choice for life. PeTA, if it stuck to its really effective campaigns (slaughterhouse pictures, fact sheets about eggs, undercover lab-testing exposes, cold hard numbers behind the breed/adopt debate) might do some real good. But for now it seems like it takes other organizations or social groups to keep people vegan. The support found at places like the Post Punk Kitchen or the friendly atmosphere at retailers such Herbivore or Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe are much more effective in terms of making the right choice a long-term choice.

The other vegan organization out there that shies away from the tough issues is the milder, more outwardly reasonable Vegan Outreach. That said, I have recently requested to be taken off the VO mailing list due to an email alert in my inbox the other day. Here is the text of the letter that so infuriated me. In it, the author, Matt Bell, dances around the topic of vegans eating honey, or asking if veggie burgers are cooked on the same surface as meat burgers at restaurants, and other such things that should be dealt with more intelligently than throwing up one’s hands and claiming, and I quote “of course, we could all “do no harm” by committing suicide and letting our bodies decompose in a forest. But short of this, the best path is to take a step back and consider why we really care whether something is vegan.”

Bell’s subtle jabs at the idea of “ahimsa” aside, I personally have taken that “step back,” and I have come to the realization that yes, it is important to care about whether something is vegan. To fret over things like the outward appearance to non-vegans of using vegan soap and avoiding honey is a non-engagement with issues that deserve our attention. It seems easy to me. Using vegan soap supports vegan companies, often small and independent and worthy of business, and I really can’t see a downside to that at all. Additionally, honey is maybe the most avoidable of animal products, and is the easiest animal product to substitute in baking, tea, and Molly’s Patented Cure-All (recipe at the end of this ridiculously long blog post). In fact, it is a superior product given that it dissolves easily in cold as well as hot liquids, making it ideal for iced tea, a place where honey epically fails.

I can’t see how compassion toward insects as well as fluffy animals does anything more than reinforce for non-vegans that veganism is ethically consistent. I don’t find the avoidable/unavoidable idea of veganism “arbitrary,” as Mr. Bell seems to. Indeed, I think his numbers– that 10 billion animals are killed yearly for food purposes– leads rational vegans to a place of wanting to do more, and thus avoiding things like whey, stearates, leather goods, wool, and other so-called by-products of that terrible, terrible industry. To do so is the logical extension of compassion, and when represented reasonably and cheerfully to non-vegans does not make one seem insane or overly pious or whatever he seems to think. To be frank, most non-vegans think vegans are crazy just for avoiding cheese, or chicken, or perhaps most of all (given the conversations I have, but maybe it’s just a southern thing) bacon, so I doubt jaws really drop any lower at the mention of honey. It is ethically disingenuous to go halfway, ending the discussion with statements like “the issue for thoughtful, compassionate people isn’t, “Is this vegan?” Rather, the important question is: “Which choice leads to less suffering?” Our guide shouldn’t be an endless list of ingredients, but rather doing our absolute best to stop cruelty to animals.” This sort of false binary only allows lazy people to justify eating honey. Vegans really can make a conscientious effort to avoid animal ingredients and do our best to stop cruelty to animals!

It is so, so easy to avoid by-products, and it is so, so easy to deal rationally with issues such as by-products, honey, and the notion of cross-contamination. No, honey is not a vegan product, regardless of whether your car kills bugs when you drive. No, it isn’t unreasonable to buy vegan soap even if your tires are made with stearates. No, it isn’t bad for the vegan image if you politely ask a server if vegan options are prepared in a way that they might be cross-contaminated by meat. His bland polemic “the animals don’t need us to be right, they need us to be effective” is a rallying cry for slitherer-outers who simply don’t want to think hard about inconvenient issues. And, in my opinion, to ignore or justify those sorts of minutiae only leads to a case of unnecessary justification to omnivores asking why it’s OK to exploit insects with a complex society and culture but not to eat less-self-aware creatures such as oysters.

I think it’s better to be honest to one’s self and to the animals, and just take the time to sort out one’s own thoughts so one can communicate effectively when needed. There are obviously more than two groups of people who ask about veganism, but two of the biggest are those who are genuinely interested and who will appreciate rational discussion, honest answers, and ethical consistency, and those who ask about veganism only to sneer and chide and won’t think veganism is possible regardless of ambivalence to honey-eating. Why limit our compassion just to reach those people? Dishonesty to a movement for the sake of making a fairly complicated life-decision seem easy is just silly.

In my opinion, being as consistent as possible does more to help the animals, and I genuinely care about bees, meat in my food, and not washing myself with animal fat. I am also fairly confident in my ability to represent that compassion to others without seeming insane, and if I of all people can do that, more cool-headed individuals must be able to with ease. Really, to say anything different would be dishonest.

Veganism isn’t always easy, but it is a moral choice, and those are never always easy. To represent veganism as anything less than a complicated, but compassionate decision that helps the animals and the earth is just setting up people for hard times later when they do have to wrangle with those questions without help from organizations such as Vegan Outreach or PeTA, and I hope one day they see that. And with that, here’s my recipe for my honey-free, go-to cure-all whenever I’m feeling a cold coming on, or have a sore throat, or am just feeling like I need a little pep in my step.

Molly’s Cure-All

The juice of half a lemon

2-3  tbs. agave nectar

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

two slices fresh ginger

1/2 fresh garlic clove

Smash the garlic and the ginger, and drop in a mug. Cover with lemon, agave, and cayenne. Top off with boiling water, stir, let sit until cool enough to drink, and enjoy! Yes you will smell like garlic but it’s good for what ails you!

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independent readers

July 6, 2009 at 3:33 pm (reading, thinking) (, )

Yesterday I was in Borders trying to find Lirael, the sequel to Garth Nix’s faboo Sabriel that I devoured at the end of last semester instead of spending my time more productively translating Plato’s Apology. Sabriel was awesome, pretty much everything I could want in a novel– in brief, a teenaged necromancer with a pale skin and black hair and a glowing, rune-covered sword battles the forces of evil with a bandolier of silver bells that send the dead back to where the dead should be. And a talking cat. YES! Despite falling victim to what I consider to be the most overused of fantasy tropes (which I will not discuss here due to the fact that to talk about it would be a Serious Spoiler for future readers) I found it extremely pleasing to my sensibilities and I am anticipating hearing Nix speak at World Fantasy Con this October.

This post, however, is not about Sabriel, nor is it about my disappointment that Borders didn’t have Lirael. Instead, it is about book marketing and something strange in Borders.

The subject of this post might be something quite old in the world of book marketing but it is news to me because I usually don’t shop at Borders. I usually order everything online, mostly because I purchase research materials that are rare or out of print and Abe Books and Amazon’s independent sellers tend to do better for me. But after hearing from an author friend that it’s better to buy books from places like Borders (or, of course, independent booksellers if you have one) so they’ll be sure to carry author’s next works, I decided to go.

Thinking that Sabriel would be considered Young Adult fiction, I walked in the general direction of the children’s area only to find that instead of finding Young Adult, I found a section called Independent Readers. It contained some famous youth-oriented fantasy books (Harry Potter, etc.) marked with an indicator of age level. Despite the problematic nature of ranking books according to age due to some mythical idea of when books are appropriate for young readers (which is a whole ‘nother post), I figured this was NewSpeak for Young Adult and commenced looking around only to be baffled by an absence of Nix. I found J.K. Rowling, I found Philip  Pullman, I found C. S. Lewis. No Nix. So, thinking perhaps that Sabriel was in with the grown-up fantasy, I trekked across the store. I found Gaiman, I found Maguire, I found Pullman (same books, fancier, more adult-oriented covers), but still Nix was nowhere to be seen.

Frustrated at that point, I addressed one of the employees. The young man in question gave me the “are you daft?” look that disaffected bookstore employees and baristas everywhere give to customers who ask them questions (from my porch I shake my cane at the world, disturbing many a cat), and led me to a different section of the bookstore, the Young Adult  section proper.

There I did find Nix (though not the Nix I desired) and a host of other books, including Gaiman’s Stardust, an entire ocean of the Twilight series in hardcover, and Libba Bray’s corseted Gemma Doyle novels. For the life of me I could not figure out why these merited their own section apart from Rowling and Pullman, since the literary stylings of Stephenie Meyer’s novels are, shall we say, less complicated than, for example, The Amber Spyglass, and her subject matter is, perhaps, less profound (“Did the cute boy come to school today?” versus “What is the nature of the soul? What is death? What makes children different than adults?”). The same for A Great and Terrible Beauty, which is also less emotionally and syntactically complicated than Pullman (but which I genuinely enjoyed after purchasing it solely on the basis of its cover).

Then it struck me: the thing that StardustSabriel, Twilight, and the Gemma Doyle books all have in common is that they all have sex in them. Though the sex scene in Sabriel is mild, it is still present and accounted for much moreso than the mention of sexuality in His Dark Materials (though they perhaps get points for mentioning genital mutilation and being children’s novels) or in any of the Narnia books. Due to grad school I have been severely behind on all fiction reading, and most notably my YA reading (which is sad, because YA fantasy novels are generally my favorite), so few of the other titles were familiar to me, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. And the less it made sense, given that I know that as a kid (or as kids seem to be called these days, “independent readers”) I would have been a heck of a lot more disturbed by the death and violence in the Harry Potter books and the Pullman novels than any of the makeout-sexy-time in the YA novels in Borders. Except for Twilight, but this is neither the time nor the place to discuss that particular grab-bag of oddness.

Anyways, I wonder if my hunch is correct, and that sexuality is the signifier of Young Adult Fiction these days. If I am right, and sex has become that line in the sand, it seems really weird. I don’t know if it’s my own preference for sex over violence (call me crazy) but it seems weird to me, and really arbitrary. I wonder if Borders got a lot of letters from parents complaining that the makeouts in some Young Adult books were just too adult for their tween? I know that as a kid who grew up before the era of the nebulous “Independent Reader” section at Borders, I really appreciated YA fiction that included both sexuality and violence because those are things that are a part of life, and deserve inclusion in literature for thinking people of various ages. I think the stakes are even higher for YA/Independent Readers, since (dealing with sexuality specifically, since most kids won’t ever need to worry about taking up their father or mother’s sword to battle evil) books aimed at that age group will model for kids what sexuality could look like in the future, and thus I think the best books for are ones that deal with that subject intelligently.

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july fourth official vegan post

July 4, 2009 at 8:57 pm (vegan living)

When people learn that I am vegan, many ask if my reason for being vegan has to do with health. For me, while the physical benefits of a vegan diet are incredibly compelling, my reasons for abstaining from animal products are really rooted in animal rights philosophy. Cupcakes, cookies, seitan picatta over mashed potatoes, and a host of other decadent things that are bad for me are all welcome at my table, and the fact that such dishes are all cholesterol-free and tend to be higher in fiber and nutrients just happens to be an added bonus. Compassion is the motivating force behind my choice, not calories. 

That said, recently I have been very interested in being more healthy in my cooking. I have been eating most of my meals according to the guidelines set out in Dr. Fuhrman’s wonderful Eat to Live, which emphasizes nutrient density, so basically getting carbohydrates not from grain products but from salads, leafy greens, raw and cooked vegetables, and fruits, as well as privileging protein sources such as legumes and nuts rather than seitan, tofu, and meat analogues. Fats are eaten only in whole form, so avocados, whole olives, nuts, and flax seeds make up the bulk of that food group. I’ve been trying to avoid flour-based products and refined sugar, instead indulging my sweet tooth on things like dates and fresh fruit. The great site Fat Free Vegan has been helping me out with recipes such as Ful Nabed and pasta-free lasagna. One of the recipes following this post was also inspired by that site, to give credit where credit is due.

I’ve also been fascinated for a long time by raw food, and while I can’t see myself “going raw” as many vegans do, I enjoy the occasional foray into raw cuisine. So for my official Fourth of July Cookout Edition Blog I am posting two recipes, both (mostly) raw and (entirely)vegan and one is even Eat to Live approved!

Raw Fruit Pie

This pie is vegan, raw, totally free of refined sugar or any flour at all, and it is ridiculously delicious. It’s also very flexible, so you can use whatever fruit you have available though I dunno how well something like apples would work. I’d stick to stone fruit of any kind (peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries) or berries of any stripe, though raw strawberries tend to get watery so look out. Make the crust first and don’t bother washing out the blender when you make the filling. The crust is adapted from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, the filling from the Berry Pie on Fat Free Vegan. You could use a graham cracker crust here, either home-made or store-bought, or a blind-baked store crust as if you were making key lime pie or something like that.


1 cup walnuts

1 cup pistachios

¾ cup dates

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbs. ground flax seeds

Grind up the walnuts, pistachios, cinnamon, and flax seeds in a food processor until they look like coarse meal, and then pit the dates and dump them in. Pulse until the dates are well chopped and the crust holds together when press. Press firmly into a pie plate (bottom and sides).


4-5 ripe nectarines, cut off the pit into small chunks

3 bananas

6 dates

Juice from one lemon

To make the pie:

Place the chunks of fruit into the prepared pie crust, you want them to fill the pie plate fairly well. In your food processor, blend up the bananas, dates, and lemon juice until you get a custard-like substance that will look kind of brown and unappealing, but will taste tangy and sweet. Spread the custard over the fruit and then garnish with nuts and mint to spruce up the drabness if you like. Let it chill and then scoop out. The crust won’t hold together just like a regular pie crust but it will be redonkulously delicious however it looks.


Royal Mayan Pie

This recipe is based on one of the first vegan desserts I ever made. It is somehow associated with Woody Harrelson but I don’t know how or why. You could make this with the raw crust above and it would be rad but it’s just as good with a graham cracker crust. Make it for your friends who are squeamish about tofu chocolate pies, or just make it and watch Apocalypto or have an opening night party for 2012 or something. I like to decorate this pie by sprinkling cacao nibs around the edges and a nice little pile in the center but they are pretty fierce so if you’re not into bitter chocolate then maybe skip that.


2 cups avocado (I use a combination of haas and florida avocados but you can use whatever)

½ cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup

1-2 teaspoons almond extract

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (aged balsamic is best)

½ teaspoon shoyu

1 cup pure cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s special dark powder and it was awesome)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Cacao nibs (optional)

 To make the pie:

In a food processor, blend avocado, maple syrup, almond extract, balsamic, and shoyu, cinnamon, and cayenne until smooth and creamy and lump-free. Add cocoa powder by sifting the cocoa through a mesh strainer, and blend. Pour into a prepared crust– either the raw crust or a graham cracker crust works really well. Decorate with cacao nibs and chill. 

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new blog category: vegan living!

July 3, 2009 at 8:43 am (vegan living)

I don’t think I blog enough about veganism, given that veganism is such a huge part of my daily life. Therefore I will be adding vegan-oriented posts every so often, from recipes to vegan philosophy to, uh. . .vegan. . . humor? Do we have a sense of humor?

I realized that I think the only time I even mentioned being vegan on this blog was a very unhealthy rant, and usually veganism is one of the bright points in my life, as it touches my emotional, physical, and cognitive selves. 

I’m going to kick off this project by posting one of my most successfully veganized recipes, tofu tikka masala. 

Tofu Tikki Masala

Cooking Indian food is always challenging for me, both in terms of patience and in terms of sheer willingness to chop so much stuff, organize so many spices, and dirty so many dishes. This tofu tikki is worth any amount of effort, which is awesome because of all the Indian dishes out there it’s not too bad in terms of length of time needed to prepare the dish and the state of the kitchen afterwards. It’s a hearty, flavorful dish that goes beautifully with only basmati rice and a side salad. 

The original recipe was from Cook’s Illustrated, and needed tinkering in terms of ingredients (the original contained chicken as the protein, and also sour cream and yogurt) and in terms of methodology. 

Tofu Tikki:

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. table salt

2 blocks extra-firm tofu (the water-packed kind, not the vacuum-sealed Mori Nu)

1 c. plain soy yogurt

2 tbs. vegetable oil

3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

1 tbs. fresh ginger, minced

Masala Sauce

3 tbs. vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

1 tbs. fresh minced ginger

1 jalepeno or serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed if you want it less spicy, minced

1 tbs. tomato paste

1 tbs. garam masala

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. table salt

1/3 c. plain soymilk

1/3 c. tofutti sour cream

1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

For the tofu:

Cut each block of tofu into four equal slices (8 total).  I did this lengthwise, so the slices were longer and thinner.  Press for 30 minutes to an hour.  While tofu is pressing, whisk together the soy yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger.  Set aside.

For the sauce:

Heat oil in a largeish pot (I used not my pasta pot but the next size down– you’re going to be making the sauce and then dumping in all the tofus) over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are lighly golden (8-10 minutes).  Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant (2 minutes).  Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then, stir in soymilk and sour cream, return to a simmer.  After it simmers one more time, remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

While the sauce simmers, put your oven rack to the upper-middle position (6 inches from heating element) and heat your broiler.  While it heats, sprinkle the salt and spices over both sides of your tofu, pat down to get them to stick, and then dredge your tofu in the yogurt mixture to coat it thickly.  Put the tofus on a foil-lined (make sure to line it with foil or it will be a bitch to clean later) baking sheet– the kind with edges.  Put under the broiler with the door cracked, broil for 8 minutes each side.  Tofu will get golden brown and smell amazing. 

Let the tofu sit for five minutes or so, then chop into cubes and dump in the sauce.  Stir in the cilantro, and then serve over basmati rice.

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