Saturday, November 12, 2011

I got some lucky charms

When I was a kid, my mother and I had a continual struggle over one particular breakfast cereal.  My sister was frequently my accomplice and when we teamed up, we frequently won.  We wanted Lucky Charms - what kid wouldn't?  First of all, when we were children, they had a great marketing campaign, complete with animated leprechauns and colorful marshmallows.

this is the actual 1980 box design

Second of all, the cereal was almost half marshmallows!  Granted, the other half was flavorless, grainy, mushy-in-milk cereal shaped to imitate those colorful, sugary, artificially flavored nuggets of heaven, but there were ways of getting around that.

And that, friends, is why the struggle occurred.

My mother made the mistake of giving in and buying it for us once.  In days were were finished with the cereal, and what I mean by that is that we had plucked out all of the marshmallows and had no special interest in eating what was left.  Mom saw this as a colossal waste of our hard-working father's money, so she swore she'd never buy it again.

When your eyes are as big and blue as mine and your hair as pale and angelic as my sister's, you just know that isn't going to last.  Throughout my childhood and youth, the scenario repeated itself over and over - mom bought the cereal after securing promises from her two little gremlins angels that we would eat ALL the contents of the box, not just the marshmallows.  We found newer and more inventive ways of not eating the gross, grey, real cereal in the box, or eating as little of it as we could get away with.

Once, as an adult, I bought myself the much-fought-over and much-sought-after cereal and discovered two things.  First, I don't know if they improved the flavor of the NotMarshmallowBits, but it really wasn't all that bad to eat bites that contained equal amounts of cereal and marshmallows.  Second, I don't know if they changed the "recipe" for the marshmallows, but they really weren't worth all the begging.

Anyway, this post isn't about those lucky charms (believe it or not).

I got lucky tonight with the last recipe of the menu: Tanya's Asian Creation from The Garden of Vegan.  Honestly, I made this out of a stubborn desire to use the second most underused cookbook in my collection.  I sat down with the book while making last week's menu and said, "I will find one good recipe in this book so I can justify having it for a better reason than that it completes the Sarah Kramer Trilogy."

In the book, the recipe looked promising, but I'll admit, it was at this point in preparing it that I finally became convinced it might taste good.  I realized that is one of the reasons I don't cook frequently from this book - there are a lot of freaky little Asian-inspired dishes by Tanya Barnard, Sarah's writing-mate, and I just can't get into a lot of the strange ingredients she uses.  I confirmed my suspicions during dinner that Mister might leave me if I try to feed him seaweed.

Fortunately, we both got lucky because this has no seaweed or other bizarre ingredients and actually tasted pretty good.  It must have been sufficiently filling, too, because it took Mister hours to need his nightly sandwich(es).

So, the old menu done and the new menu was constructed over the course of today (yes, it took all day - I was interrupted several times by a hyper Mister who concluded that he is better off as an insomniac because when he sleeps too much [= enough], he has all kinds of energy and won't leave me alone).  Lucky for Mister, I love him and I constructed almost the whole menu with his recent requests/feedback/pleas in mind.

1. Cottage Pie - I've mentioned a couple of times now that Mister mourns the loss of classic UK pub food (which is amusing, since I'm the Greek's little Irish wife), so I've set out to try veganizing a couple of classics.  This one looked relatively do-able, so while the name of the recipe links to the original recipe, I will probably post my own version once I've determined it's worth feeding to other people.

2. Bangers and Mash - which was the original reason this began.  Mister really wants vegan Bangers and Mash and said "it's just sausage and mashed potatoes, so it shouldn't be that difficult, but there's something about it that's just so....amazing."  From the recipe I'll be loosely following, it looks like that "something special" is the gravy.  Interestingly enough, I found a recipe for Bangers and Mash in one of the cookbooks I went through tonight for the rest of the menu, but since the recipe I'm borrowing from (click the title) is composed by a true Brit, I'm going to stick with that.

3. Easy Manicotti Alla Romana from The Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook because Mister also requested more food you need to cut with a knife and can be served on a plate.  Go figure.  Anyway, I figure this combines everything that is great in MisterWorld: Italian food, food you can cut, and food you eat on a plate.

4. Sloppy Joes from The Urban Vegan, which also requires a plate, also makes Mister (and Angst, and me) happy, and cooks up super fast and easy, which is all I want in the world some nights.

5. Granada Paella, also from The Urban Vegan, even though it burns my face off the first night (the leftovers hurt less, probably because I don't heat them up) because it really does taste incredible and I've made it so many times I barely have to think about it anymore, which is another thing that's important some nights.

6. Farfalle with White Beans and Cabbage from Vegan on the Cheap because I have half a head of red cabbage hanging out in my crisper drawer and because the grocery list was getting a little long for the second week of the paycheck.

At least half of the recipes take a decent time commitment.  I wanted to take advantage of the time before Black Friday to make some longer-cooking meals because I have an idea that I will want low-effort meals for the month and a half that follows.  Someday I'll work in a position that doesn't mean December = Insanity.  This year is not that time.

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