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Relishing Every Second*
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Relishing Every Second*

The last two weeks have been a steady stream of cooking and baking experiments and voracious reading habits.  When discussing this with a friend over the weekend, she told me, “Well, this just means you have more time!”  And if that is indeed the case – longer daylight hours and less time parked in front of the television – well, then yes, I do have more time, and I am relishing every second of it!

vegan_tableTwo books have completely inspired by cooking and baking of late.  I checked them both out at the library, and promptly purchased my own copies.  Once you make 11 things from a cookbook, it seems like a good time to buy your own, right? 

The Vegan Table pretty much blew my mind the minute I picked it up.  First off, it is a *beautiful book* with great photography - nearly every one of the 200 recipes in this book has a full length color photo, artfully arranged and lighted.  Eye-catching indeed.  Of course, that is purely the aesthetic.   Then you start to look at the recipes and your mouth just starts to water right then and there.  Give me a vegan cookbook and I am like Pavlov’s dog! :)    This cookbook came out this summer, and the timing could not be better.  It is just chocked full of recipes for the fresh fruits and vegetables that you find at the farmers’ markets and your local store.  Even if you are not a vegan, there is an endless supply of healthy and fresh recipes in this book to inspire you. 

In just over a week, I made nearly a dozen recipes from the book, including:  Berry Crisp, Herb-Infused Portabello Mushrooms, Lentil Mustard Salad, Quinoa Corn Salad, Beet Chocolate Bundt Cake, and Eggplant Caponara.  And now that I have my very own copy of the book, I am planning to make many many more.  There are all sorts of entertaining ideas for holidays and/or seasonal pairings.  This is such an amazing book that I think it may be perfect… or at least as close to perfect as anything I have ever seen.  [GoodReads review]

 The second book, had I not seen Vegan Table before it, would have been my veganomicon#1 favorite.  It is also a wonderful cookbook in it’s own right with SO many ideas. Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook is written and arranged by the same woman who put together the fun Vegan Cupcakes book that I reviewed a few posts back.  With this book, she truly expands and covers the whole vegan gamut.  Amazing recipes for hundreds of foods.  Like the one above, it is a great resource for anyone who wants to introduce more fresh ingredients and vegetables into their meals, regardless of the vegan name.   I used it several times when I had an ingredient in hand, and wanted to find a recipe to use it in.  This was specifically the case with some pumpkin puree I had.  Last year, we had several large pumpkins in the garden.  We pureed the pumpkins and froze them into blocks in the freezer.  Needing to make more room for this year’s harvest, I pulled out one of the blocks and searched for a recipe.  I came to the delicious sounding “Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Streusel”.  YUM!  So, I set out and made 2 batches of the cake:  one for my friends at Yoga Teacher Training over the weekend, and one for Kris and I at home.  One block down and many more ideas to go!  (On the pumpkin crumb cake note:  It was truly an international cake!  The molasses used in the recipe was from a sugar cane farm in Peru -that we visited on our trip in 2007- and the pecans were from my uncle’s orchard in Alabama.  I love the memories that cooking can bring back!) [GoodReads Review]

Here is my friend Kath enjoying the Pumpkin cake this past weekend at YTT:

Kath tries my Pumpkin Crumb Cake 

I also surprised my YTT friends with some zucchini bread that I made – with the zucchini fresh from my garden.  I used this recipe from the Vegan Street Kitchen and it was perfect!  A great way to use the zucchini too.  The thing I really liked about the recipe was the lack of refined sugars – maple syrup was the sweetener and it was just right.

Freshly Cut Zucchini 

Alecia eats the Zucchini Bread

Alecia seemed to enjoy it! :)

The cooking and baking fever continues around here, especially when I look out at my garden – growing so well as the Maryland humidity rises.  I am planning a series of posts about cooking/baking with herbs – especially herbs directly cut (or purchased fresh) from you garden:  I can’t wait to share some of the delicious recipes I have tried with you… in the meantime, here is one to whet your appetite.  A tried-and-true recipe from last year’s harvest that I am repeating this year…

Planning Pesto

Freshly cut basil from the garden to make the delectable vegan pesto!

* I looked up the word “relish” to get an idea of the etymology – and I came across this definition: to relish – to take zestful pleasure in   but I just love this definition.  ZESTful!  Yes!

PS - Yes, I am gung-ho about my veganism.  Yes, I realize that this is a huge topic that could take many posts to discuss and explain.  My veganism is very important to me, but I will never force my opinions on anyone.  I don’t like to be preached to, and I will not do this to others. Food and what we eat are sensitive matters that can be just as touchy and controversial as discussing politics and religion.  The one thing that I will say is that it is very important to know and understand where your food comes from and how it arrives on your plate;  for your health, your longevity, and your general happiness.  Veganism is a choice I have made, although I have family and good friends who continue to eat meat and dairy products.  I myself have not felt the complete conviction to eschew all of my animal fibers in my yarn stash, but I follow the same maxim here – I like to know where my products come from.  Thanks for reading, and if you would like to hear more about this, let me know by email or in the comments section… I am considering an addendum page to this blog about food politics and choices, as it is something that I deeply care about and would be happy to provide information about my path.

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27 Responses

  1. Elizabeth

    You are my favorite kind of vegan – the person who feels strongly about their eating habits but doesn’t feel the need to push it onto others. I grew up in a meat eating family (and I do eat meat and dairy…just not all that often, I don’t like meat that much) but always had friends/family friends who were vegan. Needless to say we only stayed friends with the ones who didn’t tell me I was a bad person.

    Also – vegan cookbooks have THE BEST summer recipes, I feel like other books look at veggies as an accompaniment rather than the star of the show.

  2. Mouse

    While I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan at this point in my life, I have to admit that you and your interesting recipes (and beautiful homegrown garden) are really an inspiration to move toward a meatless lifestyle! I don’t think that you come off ‘preachy’ at all.. quite the opposite!

  3. Jen

    Lolly I would love to hear more about veganism (is that the correct way to put it??) and what you’ve learned/how to find out more about where what we consume comes from. I know I would never (most likely….I suppose one should never say never!) become a total vegan but I am very much interested in 1)cooking from more natural sources and 2)becoming more aware about where what I and my family consumes come from. I have been very *lethargic* lately with hardly any energy and I KNOW it’s due to the fact that I don’t eat very well although I’m trying to do better and I need to move my behind a little bit too :-) But I’m *lazy* and don’t take the time to prepare healthy food as often as I should. Although I enjoy spending time in the kitchen!! Sorry…..this is probably more then should be in the comment section!!

  4. lynnewio

    AMEN to not being a preachy vegan. I think that a lot of the time when I tell people I’m vegan, they hear me say, “You are wrong and I am right.” I’m no preacher; I just do what is right for me and my body.

    And thanks for The Vegan Table recommendation. I have Veganomicon (and a few others), but I’m always looking for more great vegan books.

  5. Kali

    Thanks for the cookbook reviews! I am a flexitarian and love vegan recipes as they give so much bang for the buck. Everyone has room for more veggies! Have you tried any of the Voluptuous Vegan stuff yet?

  6. Meg

    I picked up Veganomicon at my library just before I left for the summer and did not spend nearly as much time as I wanted to with it. About pesto, I tried the pesto recipe from that book that used both cilantro and basil (I think it’s in the recipe for green spaghetti or something like that) and it was awesome – everything to love about traditional basil pesto with a little extra kick of freshness from the cilantro. I’ll definitely have to check out the Vegan Table this fall. How did you process the pumpkin? I’ve heard that it can be difficult to deal with the higher water content of pureed fresh pumpkin instead of the canned.

  7. Leslie

    I love this post but especially the P.S. I am not a vegetarian or a vegan but I may just put these cookbooks on my wish list thanks to your great post! :)

  8. Kala

    Yum! The Vegan Table has been on my to-buy list for quite some time, it totally needs to be added to our already crazy huge cookbook collection!

  9. Kim

    I love reading your food posts, and your food politics comments. Not vegan, or even vegetarian, your blog inspires me to keep hitting the farmers markets, and to keep upping the content of fresh produce over meat and dairy in my diet.

  10. emilylime

    Hi Lolly! I would love to hear more about your choice to become vegan and your thoughts on food politics. I have been vegan and vegetarian at different times, although I now consume dairy, eggs, honey, fish, and a very little meat. I always love to read your impassioned thoughts on topics you care deeply about – whether it’s yoga, knitting, colors, or the Sookie Stackhouse series, like when you called me out for my three-star review on GoodReads! :)

  11. Linda

    I would love to read about your veganism and why and what and how! I try to cook from fresh most of the time and am at a stage where I am reassessing everything I buy/consume/do … from making my own lotions and potions to trying to live much more minimally! Any inspiration is welcome.

  12. Gudrun

    I’d personally love to research more into veganism so I’d be happy to hear more of your experience with it! You always do such a great job of not sounding at all preachy…only insightful!

  13. Jennifer

    I was a vegetarian for a very long time and a vegan for several years. In the last few years I’ve been developing severe hand and joint problems (particularly frustrating as a knitter). My father insisted I add milk back into my diet and my joint problems all but disappeared. I am currently drinking milk and occasionally eating chicken (just really quickly before I can think about how gross it is!). Anyway, I have had so many health problems particularly during pregnancy and just after – I wonder how you manage to meet your nutritional needs as a vegan. I always seem to fall short. Do you do this with diet or supplements?

  14. GinkgoKnits

    My own aversion to veganism is based on health problems that make it an unwise choice — an ounce of cheese can be a wonderful cure at times.

    I too would like to know more about how you keep things in balance — too often I see people go overboard on supplements and I’d like to see more about how veganism can be sensibly approached.

    Also, I love the picture of the basil cutting — pretty necklace too! Sadly, I’d be going out to cut my own basil now but the foggy San Francisco summer has made the plants sickly and I need to end their suffering out there in the cold. (I’ve been wearing a wool coat all week so I’m grateful that a few tomatoes are ripening at all.)

  15. Miss Scarlett

    Mmmm…I’ve made the Eggplant Peanut Soup from the Veganomicon and it was scrumptious! Highly recommend it. Also made a Pumpkin version of the Biscotti with cloves, cinammon, mace, ginger and pumpkin seeds — really good.

    I think I might need to order this book for myself. I know there were other recipes I tried and liked from it.

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Megan

    More about food, pretty please! I’m neither vegan nor vegetarian, but thoroughly enjoy eating both ways and am so very happy that both have entered more of the mainstream. I’m also happy that the word “vegan” is more widely-known since I can now tell people how to properly pronounce my name [the long 'e' throws people] by saying “Megan like vegan even though I’m not.” :)

  17. Yoga Witch

    My sister swears by those books. I really need to pick them up! Thanks for the info! The pics are awesome, as usual!

  18. Chandler

    As an omnivore and someone who is also very conscious of food politics, I don’t think you’re preachy at all. You’ve always provided very useful information, and great ideas! Even though I’m not a vegan I use many vegan recipes, and cook for vegan friends—and I agree that no matter what one’s personal choices, it’s just very important to be informed about what you eat. I think you’re one of many who are making this world a better place, and the fact that your personal path may be different than others’ just shows that there are so many options out there! That’s a very heartening thought.

    So congratulations, and keep on writing about food! I love it.

  19. Leslie

    P.S. Have you heard of this book? Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson:
    http://www.amazon.com/Super-Natural-Cooking-Delicious-Incorporate/dp/1587612755/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248477143&sr=1-1
    It was written by a San Francisco woman who wanted to learn how to best use of all of the unusual grains and flours at our city’s amazing Rainbow Grocery. I think you might really like this book too.

  20. Josiane

    I have Veganomicon and love it – and now I want The Vegan Table! The way you talk about it makes it pretty clear that it’s a must-have!
    Keep talking about food, and veganism; I enjoy reading what you have to say about that. Actually, I must say that my blog reading habits completely changed in the past year: from mostly knitting blogs with a side of vegan food blogs, I’m now at mostly vegan food blogs with a few remaining knitting blogs – yours being one of the few that I kept in my reader. So you’ll understand that I won’t mind one minute if you write more about vegan stuff!

  21. Kris

    I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but I’m a member of a co-op and I choose local food whenever possible. I’ve worked with quite a few vegetarians over the years, and the ones who influenced me the most didn’t try to push their beliefs too much. I don’t think you’re pushy at all. One of the reasons I like your blog is that you have a wide range of interests, so don’t stop posting about the things that are important to you. Now I have a few more cookbooks to look for….

  22. Wendolene

    I am right there with you–food is there to be enjoyed, and you should run with whatever types of food give you the most enjoyment!
    Although I’m neither vegetarian or vegan, I like to be aware of what I’m putting in my body, and I am very much inspired by your food-related posts and the mouthwatering pictures that go along with them!

  23. Margarita

    Always enjoy your page. Interesting and beautiful! Thank you. Your picture is very pretty, you look great!

  24. whitney

    I love your way of thinking about food and choice. I am right there with you, although not-quite-vegan. Everyone looks so happy in these photos, and the food looks very tempting!

  25. Suzanne

    Two of my favorite books. I think we’ve talked about this before, but I have *loved* being vegan and have fallen in love with vegan cooking. We should get together soon!

  26. penny

    Thank you for the recommendations. Yay for new and exciting recipes to try.

  27. addi knitting

    This is a wonderful time of year to be a vegan. My garden is full of wonderful things and I too am enjoying trying new recipes. Will you be posting any of your favs on the site?

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