Saturday, October 1, 2011

sunny saturday love

Happy October!  Happy VeganMOFO!  Happy World Vegetarian Day!  happy happy happy

I love this month.  There are so many great things - anniversaries, birthdays, CDs I've been waiting for for 5 years, new cookbooks, and the return of the Vegan Month of Food!  MoFo Blogging is the best kind of blogging - it's kind of like the New Year because I think it helps all of us get back on our feet.  This time of year, dozens of blogs are remembered and reformed, dozens of writers recommit themselves to posting more frequently.  More serious questions are asked and answered.

This is my third Vegan MoFo.  The first year, my goal was simple: I'd just started the blog a couple of months earlier and I wanted people to read it, goshdarnit!  Here I was, pouring my heart and soul into writing recipes and then composing awesome recaps of our dinner adventures, but what good was it, other than an online "Dear Diary" if no one was reading.  So, my goal for the first year, starting out anyway, was simply to gain readership.  I accomplished that, but I also came away empowered, enriched, and ready to think more critically about things about which I'd let myself become complacent.  I gave my mind a hearty chunk to chew on by examining my feelings about the ethics of honey and wool - two forms of animal consumption in which the animal continues to live, making it seem less cruel.

The second year, last year, I don't know that I had any actual goals.  I just really enjoyed MoFo the year before, found a ton of new blogs to read and managed to convince at least a few people that mine was worth reading, so I did it again.  Again, I was enriched and inspired.  The best part about last year's MoFo was that because it was in November, everyone got to share their Thanksgiving adventures.

This year, I do have goals.  My posting has been falling off lately, which is something I've noticed on blogs I've followed for a while.  You start out all full of vim and vigor and you're going to be the best, most conscientious blogger ever...until you realize that there's a whole big world out there full of life waiting to be lived.  I'm not a "short" blogger - I don't jot down a couple of sentences and attach them to a picture just to be able to say "I blogged today."  If I don't have something to say, I just don't blog.  Unfortunately, that can result in days or even a week going by with nothing from me but silence resulting in Facebook rumors that I died.

I go into a little more detail here, but the short story is this: my goal for Vegan MoFo 2011 is to get back to basics.  I started this blog to expand my ability to actually create my own recipes and learn the puzzle of flavors and textures in such a way that I can just grab some ingredients and turn it into a delightful meal without having to consult a page of a cookbook between each step.  The problem I keep running into is how many fabulous cookbooks there are and how I want to try every recipe, but I really just want to be able to say "I'm a cook."  I want to make dinner without help from Isa or Nava or Sarah or even Dynise - not all the time, but I want to know I can do it without second guessing myself.

This couldn't come at a better time - I've cooked myself bored from my current cookbook collection and the release of the cookbook I am most looking forward to has been pushed out to November.  This means I am perfectly in a place to force myself to be creative and stretch my wings a little.  I construct a weekly menu, but my intention for this month is to always be at least one meal short of a complete week (and I don't mean that in the "euphemism for crazy" way).  I will share any great recipes I do come up with, but if you want a teaser to convince you to stick around, try this: September Lentil Soup.

Now for a little dinner recap: tonight I made Mediterranean Stew from the Moosewood Restaurant Soups and Stews Deck.

Right now, Mister and I can't get enough veggies and this stew is packed with them.  Two large bell peppers, a bunch of asparagus (roughly 1 lb) and two medium zucchini along with plenty of garlic, a can of tomatoes and a can of beans.  I caught something like the lovechild of pneumonia and tuberculosis at the beginning of the week and it appears I've passed it on to my dear husband, so we've been guzzling green juice and eating our veggies like they're going out of style.  Or like it's autumn and we're afraid of being confined to canned tomatoes and frozen broccoli for the next few months.  Either one.

It's attractive in almost a provencal kind of way, wouldn't you say?  One of the things that stood out the most to me was the very pungent taste of the fresh oregano I used.  I've never cooked with fresh oregano, even though I knew it would greatly improve my opinion of oregano as an herb, so this was a treat.  I thought the proportions of fresh herbs was somewhat comical, as the prescribed amount of basil was 1/2 cup but they only wanted me to add 2 teaspoons of chopped oregano.  Once I tasted the stew, served over bulgur, I understood why.

There was one bizarre-ish kind of thing that stood out to me in this recipe.  You could add clams as an option.  I own two other Moosewood cookbooks, so I am aware that they sometimes include fish recipes, but I just don't get that - fish-eaters consider themselves "pescatarians" rather than vegetarians, who eat vegetables :)  On their website, the folks at Moosewood claim the restaurant is vegetarian, but states that they serve fish and seafood as well.  The Collective gives the impression that their main dietary concern is the health of those eating the food, so that might explain their notion that fish fit into a vegetarian diet.  That is, if they are not "ethical" vegetarians, but merely trying to eat in the most healthful way, they would do right by putting the emphasis on grains and vegetables and tofu and beans as primary sources of protein (which they do), with the occasional consumption of "healthy" seafood.

For my purposes, though, to be vegetarian means to eat no meat and to be vegan, well, that's usually pretty indisputable, isn't it?  If not, feel free to navigate (via the right sidebar) to my October 2009 posts, in which I explored what going vegan meant for me.

Well, it's time to wrap up.  If you're new, Welcome! I hope you enjoy my snarky little posts and witty recaps of the sometimes strange but almost always delicious things my family of 2.5 eats for dinner.  If you've been around for a while, Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I love knowing you're out there and counting on your sweet, encouraging, and sometimes challenging responses to my posts.


  1. That looks awesome. I enjoy Moosewood cookbooks too- they are pretty easily veganized most of the time. :) Happy MoFo!

  2. Happy MoFo to you, too, Leslie! Those raw, chocolate hearts on your page look delightful!

    I love my first Moosewood book but the recipes take so long I rarely cook from it. Maybe we'll revisit that next week now that my new job affords me more time. Enjoy the MoFo!