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Beginnings

(post, E Ree)

I bought Veganomicon a few weeks ago and went crazy with cooking every recipe that sounded delicious (read: 80%). I love the Plantain Stew with Parsnip Chips and Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Shallots. After 10-15 recipes, though, I became frustrated--hardly any recipes were less than 1h, not really sustainable for weeknight cooking for two--and I ran out of steam. The dishes I was making weren't coming out right, either related to the recipes themselves not matching my palate or my tired approach to them diminished their quality. Either way, I put the cookbook (and cooking) aside.

I started cooking regularly when I moved to upstate New York by myself last year, but my cooking journey really started early on in life. I was fortunate to have a mom and family who embraced healthy, home made food. Every night I was in the kitchen with my mom, helping saute the onions, cracking eggs, pouring sugar into the mixer (and of course, eating the cookie dough covered beaters), asking questions and watching intently the tasks that I was deemed too young to help with. As early as I could, I started baking--classics from my mom, new recipes I found online or borrowed from friends. I did my chemistry project in tenth grade on the Chemistry of Baking, comparing the processes of leavening in traditional and Vegan brownies.

In New York, I found Wegman's. Oh Wegman's. While I'm not privy to their environmentally (or not) friendly practices, their incorporation of locally produced foods or their effect on local food growers, I thought they were just fantastic. Family owned, incredibly wide selection of fresh vegetables, food products, food bars, fresh squeezed vegetable juices, healthful meal starters, cooking classes, and my favorite part.. open 24 hours a day (a huge bonus, as I rotated shifts, working all nights through the months of June and July). I loved hanging out at Wegman's. I discovered Jicamas, almond butter, tuna packed in olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes.

I had complete control over meals, as I lived alone. I loved trying out new recipes as well as restaurants that were all new to me (Jine's! Jay's Diner!). While I lived in the co-op we had collaborative meals and dinner using freshly picked vegetables from the nearby farm and had multiple pot-lucks a week (pot-lucks!). A truly fantastic experience. But since I moved back to MA with my hubby, I have had a resurgence of passion for cooking, especially with the gift from my mother-in-law of a cooking light Simple Suppers cookbook, and subsequently with the purchase of Veganomicon.

But here I am now. I've let my kitchen fill up with dirty dishes and counter tops, fridge full of vegetables going bad, my canned chickpeas and black beans looking sad and neglected on their shelf. I feel dejected after my last attempt at Dal, a lentil dish that went disappointingly bad. Smelly, too salty, dirt-like flavor. Was it the recipe? Was it the cook?  I have a little spark left thanks to the tender, savory roasted brussel sprouts that came out surprisingly well at the same time my Dal failed miserably. And that made up recipe thrown together on-the-fly, the cauliflower and chickpea curry that came out moderately well (and moderately enjoyed by my husband). Can I just say I'm hating on salad right now? Lettuce--UGH.

My next (cautious) step feels like another cookbook--another by Isa Chandra Moskowitz with shorter, more manageable recipes for busy weeks. Maybe some small successes in the kitchen will give me the boost I need.