First Days Interning with Compassion Over Killing and a Tofu-Kale Benedict on Homemade Muffins

As I mentioned in my last post, last Saturday I trekked from my beloved Vassar home in New York to my summer residence in Washington D.C. Just north of the nation’s capital, Takoma Park, MD houses the headquarters of the phenomenal animal advocacy and vegan outreach non-profit known as Compassion Over Killing, for whom I’m proud to intern until mid-August.

In 1995, current vice president of the Humane Society Paul Shapiro founded COK as an all-volunteer high school club and served as its campaigns director until 2005, when my current boss and tireless animal activist Erica Meier took over the organization. Though COK has always functioned with a small staff and limited budget, it has and continues to tremendously impact the lives of farmed animals and spread the message of compassion for all beings, both human and non. In fact, COK has carved out a public reputation comparable to much larger animal advocacy organizations like PETA and Mercy for Animals. To name a handful of COK’s impressive campaigns, the organization has exposed numerous factory farms of egregiously cruel practices with undercover investigations, aired national pro-vegan commercials on MTV, worked with Morningstar Farms and Boca Foods to drastically reduce or completely eliminate (respectively) eggs from their products, and filed a successful lawsuit to end the egg industry’s continued use of the deceptive “Animal Care Certified” logo on egg cartons. Currently, COK works with Subway to provide more substantial vegan options than simply veggie subs with guacamole, hosts the U.S. Veg Week in April and the D.C. Veg Fest in September, continues their undercover investigations, and enacts strong legal pressure on the egg industry to stop misleading labeling practices. I could not harbor more pride toward working for a noble organization, uncorrupted and uncompromised in its core values thanks to its perpetually small size, and led by a strong-willed woman—one of the only female leaders in the American animal rights movement.

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While I’ve only spent a mere week interning with COK, I’ve already contacted numerous locations of a national restaurant chain to inquire as to what vegan options they offer, handed out nearly 100 leaflets, staffed the first and wildly successful Rehoboth Beach Veg Fest, which took place just this weekend, and helped launch the Twitter campaign to promote national restaurant chain Tropical Smoothie’s recent addition of Beyond Meat chicken-free strips to its menu. Thanks to help from COK, Tropical Smoothie now offers the option of substituting with no extra cost the acclaimed Beyond Meat for the animal-based chicken normally used in its salads, sandwiches, wraps, and flatbreads. If you live near a Tropical Smoothie location, from now until June 30 you can help raise money for my darling organization by snapping a photo of your Beyond-Meat-ified Tropical Smoothie meal, sharing the photo via Twitter or Instagram, and tagging both @TSmoothieCafe and @BeyondMeat in the post. If Tropical Smoothie and Beyond Meat receive 500+ posts before June 30, Beyond Meat will make a donation to COK. Yay for animal-free options in national chain restaurants!

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Though my 9:00 am-4:00 pm internship doesn’t allot me much free time, especially if I decide to attend a yoga class at my newly adopted D.C. studio of Yoga District after work, I’ve still managed to spend a good healthy chunk of time in the kitchen. My most recent endeavor in the surprisingly well-equipped kitchen of my D.C. apartment featured a vegan take on the brunch classic of Benedicts. Looking for a means of creatively employing the muffins I adapted from the Buckwheat Batter Bread recipe in Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread, I stumbled upon Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s “Tofu Benny” while paging through the COK office’s copy of her cookbook Vegan Brunch, and decided that regular muffins would prove just as delicious as the English variety normally featured in Benedicts. After adapting both Isa’s recipe for marinated tofu and Kristy’s recipe for cashew hollandaise sauce, as well as adding a succulent sauté of kale and mushrooms into the mix, I created a truly delectable dish that would put any cruelty-based eggy Benedict to shame. Indeed, since COK devoted much of its attention toward combatting the egg industry, it seems perfectly fitting that my first recipe post since beginning my internship would feature a compassionate version of a dish normally based in the suffering of hens. Erica and the rest of the COK staff—this one’s for you.

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Tofu-Kale Benedict—Nut Free, Low Sodium.

Serves 2-4.

Ingredients:

4 Buckwheat Muffins (recipe below)
1 batch Smoky Miso Tofu (recipe below)
1 batch Cashew Hollandaise (recipe below)
1 batch Kale-Mushroom Sauté (recipe below)
4 cherry tomatoes, halved or 4 slices of heirloom tomato

Carefully slice the muffins in half horizontally, taking care not to crumble the more delicate muffin top. Toast the muffin halves to your liking. Spoon a dollop of the Kale-Mushroom Sauté on top of the cut side of both of the muffin halves. Layer each half with a slice or two of tofu, a generous drizzle of Cashew Hollandaise, and either two cherry tomato halves or a slice of heirloom tomato. Serve.

Four-Grain Muffins

Makes 4 muffins.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup medium grind cornmeal
1/3 cup teff flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
2 tbsp + 2 tsp brown rice flour
1 tsp coconut nectar or maple syrup
2/3 cups water

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients until very well combined. Cover with a dish towel and let rest in a warm spot (about 70 degrees) for 10 to 12 hours, and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease four tins on a muffin tray and dust with flour. Pour the rested batter evenly into the four tins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Smoky Miso Tofu

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 lb extra firm tofu, sliced into about 16 slabs
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp sweet white miso
2 tsp tamari
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp liquid smoke
2 tbsp olive oil, divided

Combine all the marinade ingredients, using only 1 tbsp of olive oil for the marinade, in a shallow dish. Lay the tofu in the dish, taking care that each slab of tofu comes is contact with as much contact with the marinade as possible. Marinade for at least an hour and up to overnight, flipping the tofu halfway through the marinating process.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Place the tofu slices in the skillet and cook for about 5-7 minutes each side, until a golden-brown crust forms on the outside. Reserve the unused marinade (you will use it in the Kale-Mushroom Saute).

Cashew Hollandaise

Makes about 1 cup.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 1 hour
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Water to blend

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, adding as much water as needed to reach the desired consistency (I used about 6 tbsp of water).

Kale-Mushroom Sauté

Serves 1-4.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
4 cremini mushrooms, sliced

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Stir in the cumin and paprika, then add the kale and mushrooms. Sauté for about 7-10 minutes, until the kale is wilted and tender.

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Recipe submitted to Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays, Allergy-Free WednesdaysHealthy Vegan Fridays and Wellness Weekend.

Until next time, Ali.

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9 thoughts on “First Days Interning with Compassion Over Killing and a Tofu-Kale Benedict on Homemade Muffins

  1. Kris says:

    Sounds like your internship is off to a phenomenal start! It’s really amazing what can be accomplished when just a few people join together to make a difference 🙂 I can’t wait to hear more about what you get up to at COK!

    And those Benedicts look mouthwateringly delicious 🙂 I’ve been on a cashew cheeze sauce kick lately, I’ll have to try that Hollandaise next!

    (Also, I know you’re incredibly busy with work and what not, but I would love to see a post or two about your ‘daily schedule’ at COK! Not in a creepy way, but more like what your days involve workwise, what staff members eat for lunch, etc. All that good cheezy stuff 🙂 This internship sounds absolutely amazing and it would be awesome to get a closer glimpse at the day-to-day running of the animal rights community!)

    • Ali Seiter says:

      Thanks, Kris! Glad to hear from you, as always. And posting about my daily schedule at COK is a great idea! It does vary considerably, but I would be happy to go into more detail about it.

  2. SusanM says:

    What a great internship. I don’t think there are any Tropical Smoothies in the San Francisco area but I really support that kind of outreach to restaurants and cafes. I had a good response when suggesting vegan options at Specialty’s. I’d love it if others could contact them too. I found your blog through Choosing Raw.

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