and other adventures
So, after last week’s offering of how I like “straight up vegan,” I tried some of the “vegan products” out there that mimic different non-vegan foods- just so I could be certain of what I thought was true- for me: We tried seitan this week- a wheat product that when smushed up and flavored and rolled out into long rectangles and then cooked on a cookie sheet is supposed to resemble bacon. Eh. I had made a butternut squash and sage risotto and thought that some crumbled “bacon” on top might make a nice addition but… nope. I liked the risotto well enough on its own. I also bought – via Amazon- some “soy curls” which I’ve read about; they come looking like pale Cheetos in a bag and, apparently when you rehydrate them, you can use them in various dishes as a “chicken-like” substance. They are made from non-GMO whole soybeans that are processed without chemicals and without additives or preservatives. You soak them to plump them up and then stir into whatever you are making that needs a little bulk, a little oomph. I dunno. I’ll give it a shot (I had to buy 3 bags to fill my order) so we’ll see how it goes. Soy curls feel a little bit to me like Soylent Green (remember that 1973 dystopian thriller?) and without even busting into the bag, I’m skeptical… but come back next week and I’ll let you know.
I made a vegan shepherd’s pie this week that was good enough that my husband told me to “quit my day job and open a vegan restaurant,” and a pretty good “standard” veggie and tofu curry on basmati rice (pictured above). The hit of the week, though, for me, was a “Bombay Burrito” (see http://www.feastingathome.com) which included roasted cauliflower and chickpeas rolled up with curried mashed potatoes, raw spinach, coriander-mint chutney and pickled red onions. HEAVEN. I’d eat one of those every day of the week, if I could.
I think that at some point, I’ll fall into a rhythm like most cooks do, with a list of favorites and some easy, quick meals for nights when I’m just too beat to cook, but for now, this adventure into a whole new culinary profile is still exciting and new. I sense that “experienced vegans” enjoy meals that are, of their own right, wholesome and complete without trying to mimic something else- I’m wondering if I’ll get to that place in my menu planning and cooking in the next 11 months.
In the land of “other adventures,” I revived one of my New Year’s resolutions from last year: Spend at least one night per month sleeping out of doors. I did pretty well last year, missing only March, September, October and December, (I think)… and had actually forgotten all about my self-imposed challenge until a friend asked me in October how it was going. Seems that the other 8 months had found me on one trip or another and I had, without being too intentional about it, done pretty well. So, last night, I camped out in the back yard, eager to get January in the books for 2022 before it turns to February next week.
My tent is an old Kelty Horizon2. I love it and have dragged its 3 pound weight around with me on a few trips, now. I’m turning my gaze towards some lighter backpacking tents these days (and saving my pennies) but I love my Kelty. On clear nights you can roll the fly back and star gaze through the mesh top. Last night it was way too windy -and even a little snowy- to roll anything back. I had to tether the tent to bricks because the ground was frozen, and I tested my sleeping bag’s limits: the bag is rated for 15 degrees and it got down to 17.
This was “glamping,” for sure: I had two pillows, an inflatable pad, another accordion pad… there were enough layers between me and the snow-covered yard to make me feel like the Princess and the Pea. It was a mostly peaceful night except that the wind whipped around and the fly brushed up against the side of the tent again and again leading me to imagine that there might have been a skunk, dog, groundhog…. out there. (Do skunks and groundhogs hibernate?). Anyway, I got up around 6, took a spooky picture from my tent, and headed inside for an “indoor campfire” and coffee.
Here’s to a healthy and happy week ahead!