I had my friend Donnie over for dinner last night. A great cook in his own right, he keeps a blog at http://blackveganism.blogspot.com/ and promises to start updating again soon. (In the meantime, get caught up on his back issues!) It was the first time we’d managed to get together this summer, so I wanted to do something nice. Tofu or tempeh, he said. My planned tofu dish (the Grit’s mock chicken salad) took much too much time, so I settled on an as-yet-untried Veganomicon recipe for cornmeal-crusted tofu. Paired with organic mashed potatoes and creamy spicy-sweet corn pudding, it was perfect:

Donnie was happy, and in the end, that’s what matters:

Oh! I guess I should also mention that I made the sauce topping the encrusted tofu. That’s actually a home-made vegan chipotle mayo. The chipotles in adobo came from a can, but the mayo was home-made for a tempeh chick’n salad from last week. Recipe courtesy Bryanna Clark Grogan, it incorporated dry mustard, apple cider vinegar, and AGAR-AGAR! Check it out here. I just thoroughly mashed about a half a cup with two largeish chipotles for a tangy cream accompaniment.

Tonight I just made plain ol’ bhindi masala, which you’ve already seen on this blog a million times. The highlight of my day (which was by anyone’s count a pretty damn good one) occurred around 9pm, when I walked out the front door to see my friend Jabani zooming past on his bike. Jabani! I called to him; My Secretary! he joyfully replied. (Long story short, I’m our church office manager.) He’s been out of town recently, and in that time, our mutual friend Matt informed me that OKRA is one of most beloved foods. So I rushed up to him and in, what must have sounded like very garbled English, declared that I had made something special for dinner and wanted to share leftovers with him.

You should have seen his face when I emerged with a huge container of bhindi masala. Taking note of the okra, the tomatoes, the onion, the color, and the general stewed texture, he pronounced it “a real Nigerian recipe” and gave me the best hug I’d had in a while. (He is Nigerian, and while my recipe is Indian-ish, it is rather similar to this one.) It needs some salt, I cautioned. He vowed to spice it up.

Now I can’t wait to cook for him again, and with fresh, in-season, local okra!