Eggplants seem to be a favorite food of ours – so far every recipe tried with eggplants has been a big hit! The other day I used my relatively new food processor to make something besides hummus, Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Cutlets, a recipe found in my new subscription to Vegetarian Times. Another hit!
I had such an intense feeling of satisfaction while preparing it, which is saying something because I am notorious for disliking cooking. This has been a major life-style change here and I now find myself spending hours in the kitchen, happily, churning out healthy food as fast as we can eat it.
Frankly, I am pleasantly surprised by this turn of the tide. Tim is doing better avoiding animal products than I dreamed was possible. Last weekend we ate out at a Lebanese restaurant with vegan and gluten-free choices clearly indicated on the menu, so neither of us had any animal protein at all, yet we came away stuffed to the gills.
There have been a few awkward and uncomfortable moments as those around us adjust to this change. For years I have brought Swedish Meatballs to Dad’s for Christmas and Auntie apparently looks forward to them all year. My poor sister tried to explain to her why I would not be bringing them this year, to prepare her ahead of time for the inevitable disappointment. Auntie was not pleased. In fact, she declared that she didn’t see why I should bother to come if I wasn’t going to bring Swedish Meatballs. Ouch! When I did show up, she spent the evening eyeing me suspiciously. She showered Tim with affection, however. Perhaps she feels sorry for him…
The more I enjoy cooking now, the more I’m understanding what my problem was with cooking before. I disliked intensely handling animal flesh and animal carcasses. Trying to stuff a turkey one year brought me to tears – it’s hard to stuff something you’re trying not to touch. At the time I knew nothing about how animals were being tortured on their way to become our food, and I knew nothing about the link between animal protein and the diseases of affluence. Something about it just revolted me, a case of my intuition alerting me, but I just kept struggling along, managing as best I could, relying mostly on prepared meats, like Swedish Meatballs from IKEA.
There is a dark comedy I love, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, which is also a quirky love story. Wilbur is great at pointing out the endless ironies found in our lives. One of the many scenes that endeared me to him was when he was trying to prepare a goose for Christmas dinner. He just couldn’t cope and finally threw the uncooked goose into the kitchen sink and shouted, “Why does this have to be so disgusting!?!” I knew exactly how he felt.
One thing I love about vegan cooking is that the pots and pans are so easy to clean, even if the food is burned on. And I don’t have to worry about thawing something in the morning for dinner. Our freezer is now full of veggies and I can decide at the last-minute which ones I want to prepare, although we have fresh veggies as much as possible.
Our favorite cookbook remains 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles. We tried a Hearty Lentil & Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas, which was kind of blah, but there are more recipes in that cookbook which look promising. I love slow cookers and we both loved the Slow & Easy White Bean Cassoulet with the Tempeh & Shallot Confit from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.
Tim once came home with scallions when I had asked for shallots, but he is slowly getting more familiar with all these new foods. And I didn’t read a label carefully enough and bought a spice jar of red curry instead of curry. The resulting super spicy Curried Chickpeas & Kale (1,000 Vegetarian Recipes) was too hot for both of us. I made it again with regular curry and loved it, but it was still too hot for Tim.
Some of my readers had requested that I keep you all updated on our progress so I will no doubt write more about our culinary adventure in the months to come. Bon appétit!