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cooking from

An eco-chef celebrates a mindful connection to food.

the soul

Vegan soul food might sound like an oxymoron to those familiar with African American food ways—but not to Oakland, California, "eco-chef" and cookbook author Bryant Terry, whose cookbook Vegan Soul Kitchen is a paean to the plant-centered foods of the African diaspora.

Terry, an avid yoga practitioner and an activist for sustainable-food systems, says there's no conflict: "One of my major goals with this book was to help remind people that African American cuisine is rooted in food that is as local as the backyard garden," he says.

For Terry, the idea of soul food resonates deeply. "The guiding principle of my own connection with food is mindfulness," he says. "Ultimately, the 'soul' in Vegan Soul Kitchen is a metaphor for essence, breath, spirit. When you're truly connected with other living beings, you make decisions that are best for the earth, the workers, the animals. I think presenting sustainable, good food is one of the most gentle ways I can help people be more aware of that interconnectedness."

Terry's yoga practice has been a major inspiration for his work as an activist for sustainability. He practices with San Francisco yoga teacher and social activist Katchie Ananda. "She really helps students consider the ways that their practice can move from the mat to the world," says Terry. "It inspires my own thoughts about how I can embrace sustainability and make a wider impact." kate Washington

baked BBQ black-eyed peas

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 1/ cups dried black-eyed peas, soaked 1 3-inch piece kombu (dried kelp) 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil 1/ cup diced onions

1 cup diced red or green bell pepper

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons lime juice V4 cup tamarl

1 cup canned tomato sauce 1 chipotle in adobo sauce 1/ cup agave nectar 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon dried thyme Pinch cayenne

1 Drain the black-eyed peas. Combine with kombu and fresh water to cover in a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Skim off any foam, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Drain, reserving cooking water. Discard kombu.

2 Mix two teaspoons olive oil, onions, and bell pepper in a medium pan over medium heat. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes, until fragrant. Preheat the oven to 350°.

3 In a blender, combine the vinegar, lime juice, tamari, tomato sauce, chipotle, agave nectar, spices, 1 cup of the reserved cooking water, and the remaining olive oil. Purée until smooth.

4 In a 2-quart baking dish, combine the peas, vegetables, and sauce and stir well. Bake uncovered for 1 / to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve at room temperature.

Adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen, by Bryant Terry. Copyright ©2009, Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

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