Everything got a little crazy around here over the past few months, but it starting to settle into a new normal now. As 2012 is rolling in, all I can think about is trying to feel more settled. But settled in a new, old sort of way. That doesn’t make much sense, but it feels like it does so stick with me. I feel like the last few years have changed me and how I am living. I’ve gotten real lazy. Like I’m stuck in a whole bunch of ruts and have given up trying to get out of them.
Gotta do something about all that.
The first rut, the one I’m going to talk about today is food related. I used to really enjoy learning to cook new things! I actually went through a spell where I truly loved cooking. It was so fulfilling and exciting! I was so happy to be feeding myself and my family nutritious meals, while learning about food in the process. Somewhere since the birth of my second child, cooking has become just another chore. Sure, I love eating. But the cooking and cleaning up after was just annoying. I was relying way too heavily on processed, convenience foods that were super quick and didn’t involve much of anything. Sure, we were still eating better than the typical American diet, but not anywhere near as healthy as we used to.
Somewhere around Vegan MoFo, I became interested in actually cooking again. Just here and there when the house was quiet and I wasn’t on a strict time schedule. It was starting to become fun again!
Sort of. I’ll never make peace with the clean-up portion.
Mid October, my husband lost his job and I was forced to cook more to lower our food budget. This was the best thing for me! I had to make time to cook. I got back into my habit of making seitan every week, doing large batches of pancakes and muffins to freeze. Just little things that used a little time, but saved a lot of money. Somehow by creating these new habits, I started to really enjoy cooking again. Looking forward to it, even.
It wasn’t long before I realized that I make the same things over and over and over again. I have all these amazing cookbooks but I haven’t made much out of them in so, so long. I baked a few new things over the holidays and had so much fun that I decided to challenge myself to make as many new recipes & foods as I can this year. So far, on the morning of January 9th, I’ve tried out 6 new recipes! I am having such a great time and so happy to be back into what is feeling like my old rhythm!
I’m trying to not overwhelm myself, so I pick out a few recipes I’ve wanted to try for ages and just wimped out on at a time. Once those are done, I add a few more. I’d love to hear your favorite recipes of the past few years!
First up was the Santuary Dressing from Appetite for Reduction. I grew up on Hidden Valley Ranch and remember it fondly. I tried lots of replacements over the years and the only thing that came close (although it’s not like it AT ALL) for me was Brianna’s Poppyseed Dressing
Yummy, but expensive.
I’ll probably never buy it again but Isa’s Sanctuary Dip is absolutely perfect! Creamy and just totally fills that Ranch sized hole in my heart. Let’s just say that a few days after making this the first time, I made it again. A double batch.
Second up were Katie‘s famous Tempeh Wingz from Don’t Eat of The Sidewalk. If you’ve been on the internet AT ALL, you know how every single person that tries these loves them. I stayed away at first because I’m a total wimp and hate anything remotely containing hot sauce. Matt, however, has hot sauce running through his veins practically. You would not believe the amount of space in my pantry that is decided to that stuff. But that’s another post for a whole ‘nother day.
I decided to finally make these for him, but they smelled so good, I ate a few without sauce on them. Holy hell! They are amazing! Shae and I both are ready to quit Gardein Chick’n Strips straight up. For Shae to say that, you just don’t know what a big deal that is. Kudo’s Katie!
Matt was super impressed too and a little betrayed that these existed so long before hitting his mouth. Poor guy. These are going into regular rotation for sure.
Third: Pasta Con Broccoli from Appetite for Reduction (I’ll be using this book a lot because it’s one my most neglected). So yummy! Shae wasn’t the hugest fan, but I’ll use less red pepper flakes next time and replace the wine and I think that will win him over.
Fourth: Quinoa Salad from Appetite for Reduction. Shae actually looked though my cookbooks with me and begged me to make this. Anyone else know of a almost 13 year old boy that begs for Quinoa? I’ve actually never made it before, but we’ve had it out plenty of times and all really love it. I think I’ve avoided it because it’s friggin $6 a box here! That makes 4 cups. I want bulk bins and I want them now, dammit. Anyway, we love it! I think we love everything actually.
Fifth & Sixth: Shittake Risotto from Yellow Rose Greatest Hits & Maple Carrots from Appetite for Reduction. You all know that you NEED TO OWN every single book Isa is involved with right? Well same goes for Joanna Vaught. Just buy it and you’ll thank me. I have her first book and zines, but bought this one too. I’m not sure if the Risotto is in one of her others and I just overlooked it or what? But it jumped out to us now. Actually when Matt heard I was going to attempt it, he said “I love Joanna. Is that okay?”. Of course it’s okay. I’d be concerned if he didn’t. Risotto sounds scary, right? I’ve always been terrified and assumed it was just way above my skill level. No longer, suckers! It turned out just amazing. We basically oohed and awwed the entire meal. This is what I’ll be making to impress people! I trust Joanna’s recipes and directions and just went with it and it’s actually SUPER EASY. Basically, lots of stirring. Which you can do while playing Words with Friends. Bonus! The carrots were great too, just sweet enough. Shae devoured them and asked if we can always make them that way from now on.
I don’t mention Silas’ opinions much because Silas hates food. I’m working on it guys, believe me. Sensory issues are not the easiest job for a Mama. I’ve helped him through many other little hurdles, this one will be in the past soon enough.
Today I’m going to try out Mama Pea’s Zee Bars. We do buy the Clif Zbars. Not because they are marketed for “kidz” as Mama Pea harps on, but because they taste good and are an easily available prepackaged treat. Shae used to keep them in his classrooms in elementary school for unexpected birthdays and stuff instead of sitting there watching the other kids with their eggy cupcakes. Silas loves them now. They have gotten us through a few really long bus rides on vacation! Matt and I prefer them to Luna or Clif bars. Maybe we are just kidZ still? Who knows, but Mama Pea’s recipe looks yummy so I’m excited to see how they taste!
And super excited to be excited about cooking!