Monday, April 26, 2010

Sarah Kramer: Queen of Chili

Sarah Kramer, author of the trilogy of vegan cookbooks that introduced me to veganism in a healthier (read: less violent and in-your-face) way than PETA, shares her experiences in relating to food throughout her life.  The introductions to her cookbooks are always personal and in that way, edifying to the reader.  She was raised as a vegetarian, but healthy food became increasingly scarce after her mother died, and eventually she ventured into "experimenting" with meat.  After she realized how unhealthy she had made herself (not necessarily because she ate meat, but rather due to alternately stuffing herself with junkfood and starving herself so she would weigh a magical number under 100 lbs), she went back to her vegetarian roots and then some, becoming vegan and restoring her health.

Before she went vegan, though, I think she developed quite a taste for chili, because it seems like she is constantly tweaking recipes to make the perfect vegan chili.  Mister and I think she might have found it with the recipe I made for dinner last night:

Baked Chili with Cornbread Biscuit Topping is in the third and final book of the set, and the only book she authored alone - La Dolce Vegan.  Mister and I really enjoy two of her other chili recipes, but we both agree that this is her finest work (chili-wise anyway).

It looked like so much fun while it was cooking, I couldn't help taking a picture.  I can't believe I geek out over how attractive chili is, but there were just so many colorful ingredients (and ingredients in general) that I got happier with every addition.

getting ready for the topping and then the oven

I am always amazed when I can plop something sloppy (and flour-based, to clear up any confusion) on top of something I'm about to bake, and it actually turns into whatever bready product it's supposed to be.  I have never actually made cornbread before, so I was even more excited that I could make it on top of something!

Finally, I do feel the need to highlight our salads:

Those gorgeous, vivid, red bits on top?  A huge strawberry at the peak of ripeness that I chopped and sprinkled over top.  When I was at Whole Foods yesterday, I gawked at the $5 cartons of not-quite-in-season strawberries and passed them by to get my veggies.  As I was leaving the produce section, a sweet, heavenly scent reached by nose.  Turning, I was greeted by a smiling young lady in a headscarf who was stocking a table with little plastic baskets of strawberries.  These berries were much less expensive and much more ripe - perfectly so.  She cleaned one and gave it to me to taste and I was sold.  These are among the best strawberries I have ever eaten.

For this week's menu, I actually paged through a few cookbooks.  As easy as it is to just go through one cookbook for each menu, it does lack diversity at times, especially when all the recipes take an hour or more or have similar ingredients/tastes.  Also, I wanted to sample just a few old favorites while continuing my quest to constantly expand my culinary repertoire.

1. Modular Pakistani Kima from The Urban Vegan.  I skipped this the first couple of times I scanned the book.  It looks fascinating and I am very much looking forward to making it, but it took me a few read-throughs to realize the structure of this dish.  It's kind of a Choose Your Own Adventure kind of dish, where Dynise provides a few different choices you get to make, so the results could very well be different each time you make it.  There appears to be a space missing in the cookbook between the last choice and the continuing list of Same-Every-Time ingredients, which is one of the things that kept me moving on to the next page, but I think I've figured it out and I'm willing to be wrong if I haven't.

2. Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes and Kalamata Tapenade from Vegan With A VengeanceI really wanted to make some old-school Isa recipes, so I bypassed Veganomicon in favor of her first cookbook.  This is another recipes I have looked at and then away from almost every time I've looked through this cookbook.  I don't know the source of my sudden bravado (it might have been this), but I have decided that this week will be the week I finally make this.

3. Jerk Seitan on Coconut Rice, also from VwaV.  I've made this before and Mister loves it.  It is pretty darn tasty and I love the way the coconut rice complements and calms the jerk marinade.

4. Monk Bowls with Tahini-Mustard Dressing, both from The 30 Minute Vegan.  I am pretty sure this is going to be a pretty regular meal in our rotation.  It is refreshingly tasty and extremely easy to make, even if the Zen of the experience escaped me the first time I made it.  I am determined to get this to the point where it is so simple I don't even have to think as I dance the food-prep-ballet around my feng shui-compliant future kitchen.

5. Pasta with Beans and Chard from my beloved Vegan Express.  This is also very simple, almost to the point it's a shame there's an actual recipe.  Nevertheless, it's a good recipe and one that takes little thought and less effort to prepare.  I also have a new bunch of dried cranberries burning a hole in my cupboard and I think it's fun that they're in the recipe.

No comments:

Post a Comment