Sideways Cottage is a record of my experiment in plant-based eating and a collection of vegan recipes–borrowed, adapted, and created.


I’ve been vegetarian for over thirty years now, and something I noticed quite soon after my “conversion” was that I seemed to avoid many of the garden-variety illnesses that many people around me seemed to be catching. A year or so after I became vegetarian, I read Dr. Neal Barnard’s book, Food for Life, and, after hearing Dr. Barnard speak, decided to try veganism for the first time. I felt fantastic and immediately lost the extra weight I’d been carrying around since my child’s birth three years earlier. But I didn’t have the discipline to maintain it, and since I was only in my mid-thirties, the spectre of those diseases of middle age wasn’t yet a motivating factor. After spending my forties running marathons and working out (and eating to maintain energy for these pursuits), I entered my sixth decade with what now seems to have been an appetite for indolence and indulgence. After a couple of years of eating too much cheese and drinking too much wine (and gaining weight–surprise, surprise!), I realized that if I had any hope of avoiding chronic–and often age-related–diseases (type 2 diabetes, arthritis, T.I.A.s, strokes, cancer, heart attack, etc.) that so many people my age are now enduring and if I wanted to lose weight and feel good, I was going to have to make some major changes in my habits. Another motivating factor is that my mother had a heart attack at the tender age of fifty-eight. While I understand that genetics play a huge part in all of these diseases, diet and exercise can also play a part, and that’s the part we can control.

Why “Sideways Cottage“? It’s what we call the house where we spend most of our time now that we’ve retired from teaching English literature and composition at a teaching university in Vancouver. The reason for the name is that the top half of our house was brought over (on a barge!) to our island from another gulf island twenty-odd years ago. We suspect that the cabin was too close to the property lines on either side, so the owners turned it sideways. They also raised it and added a funky wooden spiral staircase to connect the floors. When you enter the house on the main floor, it feels like a typical suburban house–all drywall, tile, and laminate floors, but when you take the spiral staircase up to the second floor, the house becomes an open-plan cabin–complete with well-worn fir floors and a cozy wood stove.

The banner at the top is the entrance to our cabin…


Notice the sign, which is from the Ontario cottage of James’s youth and, by the front door, the ceramic cat, which was modelled in clay–decades ago–by my father on my childhood cat, Tookie.



Oh, and my name isn’t really Margaret Schlegel–it’s the name of my favourite literary character from my favourite novel of all time: the great E.M. Forster’s Howards End.

Welcome to my experiment!



11 thoughts on “About

  1. Thanks, Margaret Schlegal, I now know you have a secret other life.

    But congratulations on the blog. I really like it. The style is nice and easy, not preachy, as so much health stuff can be.

    I’m sure Mark would be really interested in your blog, as would Erin and Sharon. Modesty probably forbids you from telling them, but I could pass it on if you wish.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! I was recommended to you by the Forks over Knives group on Facebook. I am a new plant based food eater looking for inspiration in all things.


    1. Hi Stormy, Welcome! I hope you find some recipes you like! I like to have a few dishes in my fridge at all times so I can always throw together a few vegan meals quickly and easily. I always have a jar of creamy salad dressing (my favourite is the cashew-dill), some peanut sauce for noodles or to drizzle over tofu, a batch of my universal marinade for tofu/tempeh, and a cheez sauce to drizzle over air-fried potatoes or tofu scrambles (like my Smoky Vegan Cheddar Sauce). Another great sauce is the Asian Brown sauce–lovely to drizzle over a stir-fry. If you want to make quick, healthy tortillas, try the lentil tortillas–so easy and SO much healthier than the commercial tortillas! Good luck and let me know if you have any questions! Oh–another great idea if you’re a new vegan is to subscribe to a plant-based meal plan. Check out my post entitled “Hacking the Plant-Based Diet” for some recommendations!


  3. Hi there! Love your website! I came across a recipe you had similar to future lettuce, looked really good & I liked your technique! But I can’t find it now. Could you please send me the link? Thanks!


  4. Hi There,
    Thank you for the detailed instructions on cooking lentil tortillas—-try as I might though, mine were a total flop. I looked at several recipes and kept failing and then found your recipe with the nice accompanying video. Some recipes said low-medium heat, some said you can use oil and others said you don’t need oil. I got my skillet hotter after reading your recipe and they came the closest to maybe what they should have been, but totally stuck to bottom of cast iron skillet (as they did the previous 4 times I tried, twice with cast iron and twice with some variation of a teflon). I am wondering if this is a goldilocks rope thing where the skillet has to be “just right” or forget it? Do you have any tips for me–your recipe was so good and thorough though. Thanks so much, Julie


    1. Hey Julie, I think it’s more finding the perfect pan and practicing. To be honest, it took me quite a while to get the knack down. As for the pan, I found that cast iron is not the best. The best pan (in my opinion) is a non-stick with a low edge so it’s easy to manoeuvre the spatula. Also, always wait until to the top of the tortilla is completely dry before attempting to loosen the edges of the tortilla and flip. I go around the edge loosening then gingerly slide the metal spatula underneath slowly to make sure nothing has stuck before flipping. Before I do the first tortilla, I do spray the pan with a bit of oil, but I don’t replenish between tortillas. I hope this helps!! Happy practicing!!


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