My doctor forced me to become a good cook.

He told me to lose 15 pounds, eliminate salt from my diet, eat less fatty meats and take medication twice a day to control high blood pressure.

His mandate did away with the stuff of life offered by the likes of McDonald's, Pizza Hut and the nearest gyro and souvlaki sandwich joint. I thought of health food restaurants but dismissed the idea since they usually don't serve liquor. Continuous eating of salads is boring and dangerous to one's health (Canadian rats die when forced to eat salads twice a day for more than two weeks).

With these limitations in mind I turned to the kitchen and developed the perfect recipe. I call it vegetarian slumgullion.

It's perfect because it contains lots of diferent nutritious vegetables, a batch of it keeps a couple of weeks, it takes minutes to cook, it can be prepared in different sauces so that it never tastes the same, it is inexpensive (except for the cauliflower), and people will think you are a gourmet cook if you serve them.

Here is what you need:

One big pot, 1 cabbage, 1 cauliflower, a bag of carrots, about a dollar's worth of broccoli, some nuts (a bag of walnuts does nicely), mushrooms, 3 Spanish onions, about a dollar's worth of seedless grapes, a small box of raisins, a bag of dried apples, one can of Old El Paso green chiles (peeled), a basket of cherry tomatoes, a bunch of scallions, assorted spices and herbs.

Cut the carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onions, chiles, scallions and cauliflower as thinly as you can. Toss them in the pot and shake them all up. Spritz them with water as you would a hanging fern and add some sweet basil, cinnamon, pepper and a dash of oregano and thyme. Cook them uncovered for 10 minutes (for crunchy) to 20 minutes (for limp). Stir them occasionally.

Taking time in food preparation is like meditation, it's relaxing. So I would recommend halving the cherry tomatoes, grapes, mushrooms and the dried apples. Throw these in the pot and shake some more.

Crush the nuts and add them along with the raisins to the mix. Shake the whole thing up again and spritz.

After the initial preparation, I like to quick fry a suitable portion of the leftover mixture in white wine, olive oil, mustard and some curry. Sliced bananas or zucinni, or both, can be added. Sometimes, I'll cook the veggies with Heinz 57 sauce and water -- it's fun to experiment.

By the way Dr. Taubin, the last time I checked, my blood pressure was 130/90. I haven't lost the 15 pounds yet, but I am having fun trying.