Run, Cook, Eat!

Vegan Challenge – One Week
January 8, 2011, 12:33 pm
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One of the things I’m most excited about for 2011 is experimenting with vegan eating. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked if I’d be interested in doing a month of vegan eating with her. At first I was hesitant, but the more I thought about it, the more excited I got.

We decided to do a trial week in January, which is just wrapping up for me. I don’t want to monkey with my diet too much during marathon training, so we’ll be doing the full month roughly May 15 – June 15. Three of us did this trial week, and there will be 5-6 of us doing the full month.

Amongst the three friends taking part in the week, we individually guidelines for what we did or did not eat, since we had different reasons for choosing this diet (Chinese-medicine related cleansing, weight loss, just generally experimenting). I personally decided to not eat eggs, milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, dairy of any kind, and honey. I’m a vegetarian, so clearly no meat either. Although I occasionally eat meat substitutes (veggie meatballs and such), I wanted to stay away from them for vegan week as to not rely on them. In terms of dairy substitutes, I avoided egregious substitutes like soy cheese (that just sounds icky), but since I hadn’t tried them before, I picked up Earth Balance vegan margarine and some soy yogurt.

What’s been best abut this week so far is that in order to successfully navigate vegan eating, I’ve had to spend extra time planning out meals, shopping lists, and what I’ll eat, cook, or prep on any given day. Time consuming? Yes. Lots of dishes to wash? Yes. But I’m getting to fully indulge one of my favorite hobbies – cooking – while eating good, clean, healthy and budget-friendly food for every single one of my meals.

I’ve also gotten to delve in to a few deserving cookbooks on my shelf. Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian has been my go-to book for so long, so this week I’ve stayed away from it and instead focused on cooking from Veganomicon, Vegan Soul Kitchen, and some vegan (or easily veganized) dishes from my RSS feed’s saved items.

Assuming I follow through with it, in the next few days I’ll be posting a roundup of what I cooked and how it turned out. Veganomicon in particular had a lot of errata, so even though I won’t be posting full recipes, I think it will be useful to provide comments on what worked and what didn’t, and what is worth cooking from these various cookbooks.

As my official vegan week wraps up, I’m actually enjoying it so much that I might extend it a bit longer, until I finish off the recipes in my queue. (Or at least until I finish off this tub of Earth Balance.) Ethically and practically, I don’t think being 100% vegan all of the time is a good choice for me, but this week and this food has definitely convinced me to make vegan cooking a much larger part of my diet.


More cookbooks!

My incredibly thoughtful friends and family gave me all sorts of great food-related gifts for my birthday, not the least being 7 different amazing cookbooks from J.

Vegan Soul Food, which I mentioned last week, was just the first of many books to show up in the mail over the course of two weeks. There’s definitely a baking/sweets bent to J’s selections, with a hint of vegan. Here’s what I’ll be exploring the next few months:

  • Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito – I hadn’t heard of their popular Red Hook bakery until this book showed up, but I’ll definitely be making a point to stop by next time I’m in New York. It’s a nice selection of recipes, with many taking new approach on classic American favorites (ie Root Beer Bundt Cake). I’ve already tried their granola recipe (post forthcoming), and I’m looking forward to trying the Sweet and Salty Cake, the brownies, and lots more. The photography and graphic design in this book is stunning.
  • Babycakes by Erin McKenna – I accidentally discovered Babycakes – an impressive vegan and gluten free bakery in New York – two years ago while wandering in New York with the guy I was dating at the time. The cute storefront pulled me in, and soon I figured out that the boyfriend had NEVER HAD A CUPCAKE. (His excuse was he was not from the USA.) That was soon remedied. Anyway, aside from the pleasant memories associated with the shop, the cookbook looks good. Some extra work is needed to procure special veganlicious ingredients before I can bake much from this, though.
  • Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin by Kenny Shopsin and Carolynn Carreno – Rounding out the New York cookbook portion of the gifts is this clever memoir/cookbook from Kenny Shopsin. Their menu looks like a Dr. Bonner’s label (hundreds of items in tiny type), you have to follow their rules a la Soup Nazi, and the food is quirky and delicious. First up to attempt to replicate – macaroni and cheese pancakes. Other items to try – slutty cakes, ho cakes.
  • Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz – Ok, I lied, this gets New York points too. But she doesn’t have a restaurant, sadly. Anyway – Ms. Moskowitz is half of the team responsible for Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, the cookbook that convinced me of the amazing potential contained in vegan baked goods. Yum yum yum.
  • The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz – My ice cream maker has not been used enough this season. And David Lebovitz is one of my favorite bloggers. So this cookbook is a much-needed acquisition. There’s all sorts of stuff in here that fits my odd-flavor-tendencies, such as Roquefort and Honey ice cream. Yufei recommends the saffron ice cream recipe.
  • Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan – Finally, a baking bible has entered my collection. As the summer fruit season hit full-swing, I realized I don’t have a go-to book for pies, crisps, cobblers, and other baked goods. So this is great to receive! I haven’t flipped through much yet (it’s BIG!) but it will be handy, no doubt.

New Cookbook / Recipes
July 22, 2009, 6:00 pm
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J gave me a lovely new cookbook for an early birthday present – Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry. A quick look through the book has me really excited about cooking new recipes. Unlike some of my vegan / vegetarian cookbooks, the ingredients tend to be pretty accessible. Most of the recipes seem to include pantry staples with fresh produce, or items easily available at the grocery store or produce market down the street. It seems thankfully low on harder-to-find spices and crazy ingredients, and I look forward to making some of these dishes soon.

I’m also excited to delve into Mark Bittman’s 101 Simple Salads feature in today’s New York Times. It will be nice to move away from the same old greens with dinner, and this may be useful in making my way through the CSA produce box as well!