Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Trying New Things

Subtitle: Something You Should Do

Sometimes I brag that, thanks to my veganism, I try so many great new foods. That's a bit of an oversimplification though. Sometimes I have to remind myself that my transformation to master chef happened less than a year ago. I spent the first couple years as a vegan lazily grazing on packaged and pre-prepared foods. So why am I now so involved in cooking and eating?

The real credit goes to effects of my diet on my health. I was healthy in that I had no diseases or medically diagnosed problems, but I began to suspect that my diet was the culprit in some specific problems I was having, so I decided to cut out some soy.

Soy is unfairly demonized, but it is also in everything. I cut soy as an ingredient in things I purchased, meaning that the Chik Patties and soy milk were out, but tofu and tempeh could stay. That meant that my options for standby meals were greatly diminished and that's when I decided it was time to start cooking.

So theoretically, I could have gotten really involved in cooking without being a vegan, but could I have stayed that way?

I don't know. What I do know is that as a vegan, food is about active and meaningful choice making and my cooking is encouraged by a community. I am extremely conscious of what I eat; fair-trade, organic, non-GMO, compostable and sustainable are all labels that mean something to me because compassion and justice for all are what my veganism is about. I read about food, I familiarize myself with the facts and numbers, and I select the best I can. It's not a difficult process, but it's one that involves me and draws me further into the eating experience. Rather than simply eating food at meals, I now feed myself.

And many of the ideas and information I read comes from the vegan community. I'm stuck online all day at work and between deadlines, I kill time reading a number of vegan blogs and threads on the Post Punk Kitchen. The more I see pictures of and read about other people's kitchen experiences, the more I want to have and share my own. It's like a delicious cult.

This past month has been full of new experiences; I've blogged about some, but in the past few days I tried the following new foods: Chia, Dulse, Arame, Soba Noodles, Millet, Bok Choy, and Dandelion Leaves. All but the dandelion leaves were because of Get It Ripe, which is fast becoming a favorite after less than a week of ownership.

For the record, the totally amazing dishes I made from it were: Sesame Kale Soba Noodles, White Bean Bowl with Pesto, and Barbecue Baked Tofu with Mushrooms and Bell Peppers. I used the Cilantro Pesto from the book and it is a keeper. Extra points for using pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

I also used Corona in a marinade and agar powder to botch a pudding (still delicious, but kind of oddly solid).

I also bought a cast iron pan. Viva Vegan showed up on my doorstep last week as well, and I figured it was about time to go cast iron. I also found this Have Cake entry and so I think it's time to dust off the bread machine and actually use it.

On the horizon, my sister is going to teach me to do some macro-inspired cooking and my journey with raw foods continues.

So while I can't let veganism take all of the credit, it deserves a good bit of it. It's a lifestyle that requires innovation and an open mind. I feel so fortunate that I almost never make the same thing for dinner twice and that my kitchen is cruelty free in the process. I'm a better and more interesting person and I'm also more satisfied. Eating is never a mere necessity, but a statement, an experience, and a joy.

What new things have you tried leately?

As for more new things to come, I am excited to whip up a batch of raw cupcakes for Raw Wednesday in my adorable new silicone cupcake moulds! Stay tuned!

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