Vegan-Ish

Let’s get one thing straight. This is not a post advocating for you to become a vegan.
I am not vegan, and I am extremely confident I will never be one. I enjoy meat too much, and don’t you dare try to come between me and cheese. However, I have a great appreciation for vegan food. I tend to eat a diet high in vegetables and legumes, which easily lends to some vegan meals. So, this post is about vegan food and not a vegan diet or lifestyle.

During quarantine, I got much more into trying recipes from my cookbook collectionI instead of just looking online. I have all these fascinating cookbooks, but I was rarely actually making anything from them. Now, I am all about my cookbooks. I am in a middle of a project where I am indexing and coding all my cookbook recipes into a Google document. My goal is to be able to search an ingredient that I have on hand and see all the recipes with that ingredient before I choose what to cook. This project is probably going to take months with what little time I have to devote to this, but it will be well worth it in the end when I don’t have to dig through all my books every week before I go shopping.

Since, I don’t have my index ready yet, I had to flip through my books to find what to cook last week. I just happened to land on a couple vegan recipes. I found some recipes that would be the perfect transition from summer to fall. To round off the summer, I made fresh corn grits with Swiss chard and cherry tomatoes, and then to commemorate fall, I cooked a spiced red lentil stew.

Here’s my stance on sharing meals I cooked from recipe books. Typically, I always link recipes from other blogs or sites in my posts. I want to give credit to the author, and I want readers to know where they can find the recipe if they are tempted enough to cook the dish themselves. I cannot link to recipes in cookbooks, but I can add links to where you can find the cookbooks in case you are intrigued enough to purchase a copy. I will not repost recipes from cookbooks out of respect to the authors. When people put recipes online on a non-paid site, they are offering them for the world to see and use for free. However, cookbooks are on the market for the authors to earn money, so I don’t want to post anything that I only have access to because I bought the book.

The grits recipe came from Bryant Terry’s Afro Vegan cookbook. This is a new cookbook for me and the first time making a recipe from this book. Since this is a vegan dish, there isn’t butter or cream in the grits. Instead, to make the grits creamy, Terry uses creamed cashews. Wow, were these grits creamy and fluffy!

Creamed cashews, made from a recipe in Afro Vegan, with a curious onlooker

I quite enjoyed the creamed cashews in this dish. These may have been the best grits I’ve even eaten. They were absolutely luscious, and the cashews added more protein and fat to this dish that made it more filling than standard grits would have been. With sweet corn, Swiss chard, and tomatoes, I felt that last moment of summer with each bite, and I was certainly curious to try more recipes from this book.

Summer didn’t stick around much longer. I went from having a long and hot day in the kitchen to pulling out my first sweatshirt of the year the next day. I was now ready to start making some fall dishes. As much as I love summer produce (especially all the fresh fruit) fall is by far my favorite season for ingredients. I love fall food so much. From apples and pumpkin to squash and warm spices, I get so excited every year to get out those sweaters and bring on the fall flavors.

I remembered there was a red lentil stew recipe in the Feed the Resistance cookbook. Compiled by Julia Turshen, this book has a mash-up of recipes and articles on activism from various chefs and food activists. The proceeds to this book go to the ACLU, which is why I purchased this book roughly a year ago.

The lentil stew is one of Julia’s recipes in the book, listed under “meals for the masses.” While this meal would be great for feeding a group of people at a political gathering, it also works to feed one person for days. In total, I got nine meals from this one pot of stew, which I appreciate with my busy schedule. I have loved being able to have a nutritious and filling lunch at work, knowing I will have the energy to keep running around the kitchen all afternoon. This meal is cheap, satisfying, and filling. The warm spices scream fall. I just want to dip some fresh pita bread into this stew. I am not one to like eating the same thing over and over again, but I am a little sad that I only have one serving of this stew left. I will have to savor it tomorrow.

In the end, I appreciated this accidental week of vegan food. Though I don’t often cook fully vegan, there is a breadth of fascinating vegan recipes out there, and I’m sure I will be trying some more soon.

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