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Books Read in 2020

(If you’re interested in tracking my reading list and reviews throughout the year, you can follow me on Goodreads. I’ve got a lofty reading wish list for 2021!)

2020 was clearly a year in which my reading was dominated by history and biography. While I read only 14 books, in my defense…some of them were loooong!  Churchill’s, Grant’s, and Washington’s biographies are each about 1,000 pages long; and Herodotus’ and Thucydides’ histories are about 700 pages each. The Idiot and The Overstory are 700 and 600 pages, respectively, but they seem short in comparison. 

The book that had the most impact on me this year was Chernow’s biography of Ulysses S. Grant. I came away with deep admiration and empathy for a man whose greatness was undermined by the subsequent lies told by the losing South in their “lost cause” narrative. While still a product of his day, Grant was compassionate, thoughtful, and progressive with more integrity than most leaders we read about. I cannot recommend this biography more highly. 

It was good to finally read Herodotus and Thucydides, both of which have been so valuable in giving me a much broader perspective of the world we currently live in — a world shaped by battles and politics over 2,400 years ago. 

Gates of Fire was the perfect fictional accompaniment to The Peloponnesian War, Man’s Search for Meaning was unforgettable, The Overstory was beautifully written but darker than I needed this year, and Little Women…just a light, fun read to see what all the fuss was about.

While I finished Letters from a Stoic this year, I continue to read passages from it several times a week, along with Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, The Daily Stoic, and the Tao Te Ching — all part of my daily practice.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Grant by Ron Chernow
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts 
Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
The Histories by Herodotus
The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
The Overstory: A Novel by Richard Powers
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius by Ryan Holiday
The Lessons of History by Will Durant
Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
Enchiridion by Epictetus

(The links above are for reference if you’re interested in purchasing the editions I read.)

What’s coming in 2021? High on the list: 

  • America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country
  • Plutarch’s Lives
  • The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius 
  • The Gospel of Kindness: Animal Welfare and the Making of Modern America by Janet M. Davis
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  • Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
  • On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

That’s the start of my plan. We’ll see what happens! What were your favorite books in 2020? What books are you reading in 2021?



Each cooking class is fully interactive. While I am demonstrating, you can chime in with comments, questions, and ooohs and ahhhs the entire time. Not only does this increase connection among the students, both my assistant and I see your questions and make sure we answer all of them.
You can participate in the class using Zoom on your computer, tablet or mobile device.
Upon completing your registration, you receive your confirmation email, which includes the link to our Zoom class, along with information and recipes. Each class is officially a go once a minimum number of slots are filled — at which time the recipes appear on the document. My goal is to have the recipes available to you at least 5 days before the class to give you enough time to order / shop for ingredients, should you choose to cook along.
While I love to see the faces of my students, the use of video during the live class is optional. NOTE: Even if you opt to show your video, for the class recordings, which go out to the general public as on-demand classes, NO ONE'S video is shown except for mine.
We do our best to prepare you in advance so you are ready for when the class begins. If you have issues during the class, my assistant is there to help you. Sometimes it's an issue on the user side, and when there's an issue on my side, we do our best to mitigate it right away. One of the benefits of live classes is that they're in real time, which means it's a live feed. Sometimes technical issues are out of our control, but so far, we've never had any real issues that took away from the purpose of the class.
Absolutely! Unless something goes horribly wrong (and it rarely does), each class is recorded, and students receive the class recording within 2 days of the live class.
While I do send a reminder email out a couple days before our class, I encourage you to add the class to your calendar as soon as you register.
Some students love being able to cook along; some students love to just watch. It is entirely up to you how you want to enjoy the class.
You can decide in advance which dishes you want to cook along with. You might choose to cook along for just one of the dishes or all of them. Whatever you decide, I suggest you have your mise en place all ready. That is to say, have all the ingredients measured and prepped as much as possible. (Mise en place is a French culinary phrase meaning "everything in its place.”)
Ultimately, what we take away is based on what we give, so I encourage you to be present and engaged in the class. But, for my part, if you know me, you know I'm pretty passionate about many things, and I can’t help bringing my love of food, history, language, animals, film, literature, and food lore to each class. My aim is that you walk away with a richer understanding of food, cooking, and eating than before you arrived. More than that, you will get helpful step-by-step instructions about each dish I'm demonstrating and a clear up-close view of all the ingredients and procedures. The best part is that I, too, make mistakes, and you see me make them live in real time. That's how we learn the most.
I'm thrilled to say that many students are regulars and repeats, and you will no doubt get to know some fabulous people when you attend these classes. I encourage engagement and follow-up, including posting photos, questions, and comments on our private Facebook page. Many friends and family members join from different cities, then share a virtual meal with each other once the class is over. (That makes my heart sing.) So, yes, despite being online the classes foster connection.
I have found that 60 minutes is the ideal amount of time to spend in a virtual class. Sometimes we stick around a little longer to finish something up or to enjoy a bonus cocktail by our resident mixologist (my adorable husband), but we like to honor your time and keep the classes to 60 minutes. (Some special / holiday classes are scheduled for 90 minutes, but they’re the exception.) If we go over and you need to drop off, you can always view the video later.
Absolutely! Once you are registered and the class is a go, you are officially enrolled. That means the recipes, resources, video recording, and even the chat transcript are yours to enjoy. You will receive a follow-up email whether you are in the live class or not.
Because the value of the classes includes exclusive recipes and resources as well as the live class / video recording, once a class is officially a go and you get access to the recipes, you cannot be refunded. However, if the class does not meet the minimum sign-up threshold and I cancel the class, you have the option of getting a full refund or switching to a different class. (This is one of the reasons I don't share the recipes until I know we've reached the minimum threshold.)
After the live class is over and enjoyed by students in real time, each class gets converted into an on-demand class so that others may enjoy the recipes, resources, and video recording. Most live classes become on-demand classes within 2 days.
No animal products are ever used in my recipes, so yes, all the classes are vegan / plant-based, which means nothing that comes out of or off of an animal. I've written three cookbooks (The Joy of Vegan Baking, The Vegan Table, and Color Me Vegan), and two lifestyle books (Vegan’s Daily Companion and The 30-Day Vegan Challenge), which also include recipes. I'm also always testing and developing new recipes (as well as modifying and perfecting old ones) to make sure students get the best, clearest, easiest-to-follow recipes — qualities that have become trademark in my work.
While living compassionately and consciously is not about being perfect, and while some students may not have access to the same bulk stores and package-free ingredients as me, I make an effort in my classes to use (and promote) as little packaging and plastic as possible, which is why so many of my recipes and menus are for how to cook and bake homemade and from-scratch!
My classes span a huge range, and your suggestions are always welcome: *Different types of cuisines (Italian, Thai, Asian, Mexican, etc.) *Particular ways of cooking and eating (Quick & Easy, Oil-free, By Color/Phytochemicals, ) *Cooking with specific appliances (Air-Fryer, Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker / Crockpot, etc.) *Homemade from scratch (Seitan, Tempeh, Tofu, Miso, Nut Cheeses, Nut Butters, etc.) *Various holidays and seasons (Mother’s Day, Easter, Passover, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Summer, Fall, etc.) *Focused on meals (Packed Lunches, Breakfast, Brunch, Fancy Dinner, Quick Dinner, etc.) *Cooking with specific foods/ ingredients (Aquafaba, Beans, Spices & Herbs, Greens, Lentils, Grains, etc. *Baking from scratch (Pizza Dough, Breads, Pretzels, Bagels, and Biscuits, Cakes, Pies, Cobblers, etc.) *And everything in between.
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