Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Still trying to veg out

18 Comments

I get tired of trying new recipes looking for that great vegan meal. Some weeks go by that I don’t try any. Still, I believe that a plant based diet is healthy and know I need to try harder.

The finished dish.

My poor husband has endured a couple years of experiments; I know it’s been this long because my Facebook memories show vegan attempts from at least two years ago. Sometimes Facebook is useful because I’ll see a recipe that was good from way back then that I’d forgotten all about it.

This week I was flipping through the Forks over Knives cookbook and thought the “Quick and Easy Thai Vegetable Stew” looked good. I added a few things to my grocery list for the week, notably coconut extract and Thai red curry paste. I had everything else in the house so I put it on this week’s dinner agenda.

Tonight I made it.

First of all, I don’t know what about this is quick and easy when you have to chop up the onion, the vegetables, the cilantro, mint and garlic. You also have to grate fresh ginger and zest and juice a lime.

Lots of stuff to prepare prior to making this dish.

I guess after you get all that done the actual cooking is fast and easy. But that’s the problem I have with most vegan cooking. Prep just takes awhile.

So how did it turn out? It’s supposed to be a main dish, and it’s suppose to serve four. Maybe this is why vegans are skinny. I put it over rice to make it more substantial, and it basically served three even that way.

Onion, ginger, garlic, lime and Thai red curry paste.

My husband ate leftover chicken enchiladas from the other night and used this dish as a side. It certainly looked like a side.

It tasted fine…except for that darn cilantro. I try to like cilantro but I just don’t. The recipe wanted 1/2 a cup of chopped cilantro, I (luckily) only had a little bit, and that’s all I used. Still, it was pervasive in the final taste. I need to remember that I don’t like it and not let it mess up an otherwise OK recipe. I guess I don’t know if I should just leave it out entirely or use parsley as a substitute.

And for the mixed vegetables I used what I had in the house, broccoli and carrots. Next time I’d use equally dense vegetables because the broccoli cooked through way before the carrots did and got sort of mushy. And I think I’d like it with water chestnuts, snow peas and maybe fresh green beans. Maybe some sliced fresh mushrooms thrown in near the end. Or peas. Maybe all of that.

Almost done.

So I’d say it was a sort of win. I’ll make it again some day, just differently. Guess that would make it a totally different dish!

Flexibility. Yep that’s what makes a vegan diet work. And persistence, lots and lots of persistence.

Mint and cilantro.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

18 thoughts on “Still trying to veg out

  1. After being vegetarian for like a hundred years, I ate vegan for about 4 years and then went back to being vegetarian. But I still cook vegan from time to time. Two books I highly recommend because I use them all the time: Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and any book (she as 4, I think) by Chloe Coscarelli. Both authors write easy delicious recipes that my husband and I both love. Yes, Thai dishes are a lot of prep work, but I do love them. I steam the broccoli, saute the ‘shrooms and parboil the snow peas. End of veggies. And always serve over rice. So darn good. And I use candied ginger, finely chopped. I am never gonna find a good use for that knob of ginger in the crisper!

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  2. I’m packing up the camper. What time is supper?

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  3. I don’t think there is anything quick and easy about vegan or vegetarian cooking, and I’ve been doing it for years and years. A friend once said that she thinks cooking meat is just as much work and I think she might be right if you’re not using processed foods of any kind, but it seemed like when we were eating meat, it didn’t take nearly as long to get things prepped and cooked.

    I like Isa’s books (one of which Lois recommended in her comment). Whatever you do, stay away from America’s Test Kitchen vegetarian cookbooks. Good grief. They turn everything into a full day affair and it comes out tasting the same as if I’d followed a recipe that hadn’t been tested and scientifically picked apart.

    There is one book, although not vegetarian, that I found extremely helpful. An Everlasting Meal: Cooking With Economy And Grace by Tamar Adler. I love, love, love this book. It is beautifully written and some of her ideas work very well with vegetarian and vegan cooking. For instance, she suggests shopping on Saturday and spending the day prepping the food for the week. I don’t spend a whole day on it and don’t have to do it on a Saturday (because I am retired), but I do try to prep my veggies in some way after I bring them home from the farmers market or grocery store. I cut up and blanch things like broccoli and cauliflower if I’m going to be stir-frying (they are good in salads that way, too, without any further cooking). Or I roast them so we can just eat them roasted (they reheat well). I clean out the ugly veggies and make veggie stock which I can use during the week or freeze. I wash greens so they’re ready to go.

    I also tend to cook in large batches so that we can eat leftovers, or at least I can eat the leftovers for lunch if my husband isn’t interested in them. I make HUGE pots of soups or chili or stews when I make them. I think that’s one reason I enjoy this time of year. I can make soup and get away with not cooking for a few days while we eat that.

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    • It looks like I could get the Isa book from my library to try. I do think when I was cooking with meet it was easier, but some of that was because it was familiar. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of this eventually. The cutting up and blanching things like broccoli and cauliflower might save time. Also cooking sweet potatoes ahead, and squash too. When I worked I used to do this with meat dishes, cooked on Sunday for the whole week. Of course I was single back then and I didn’t eat as much as my husband does. Often, if he likes something, I end up without any leftovers, or certainly not enough to make another meal for us both. That always throws a ringer in my weekly plan.

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      • I have the same problem with my husband. I love him dearly, but he does mess up my dinner plans for the week by wanting to eat so much that there are little or no leftovers. I’ve gotten a little mean in my old age. If it’s a dish that took a lot of work to make and I want to be able to have it more than once, I portion it out and tell him to find something else to eat if that’s not enough for him. Thankfully, he’s pretty understanding when it comes to the labor-intensive dishes.

        I also do what Carol does in terms of prepping early in the day. I’m a morning person. By 3 PM, my energy is dwindling. I often do whatever prep I can right after breakfast or lunch.

        Something you mentioned in one of your replies also rang a bell. I do tend to cook the same stuff over and over. Familiarity helps. For instance, I’ve made that chickpea piccata dish so many times that I could probably do it in my sleep. The piccata part is easy. It’s the mashed potatoes that take a little time for me to do when it comes to putting that all together.

        Here is the link for that recipe, by the way. It’s an Isa recipe. My mashed potatoes are not vegan. I’ve tried making them with broth or almond milk. I don’t like the texture. Chickpea piccata is both comfort food and treat for me.

        https://www.isachandra.com/2010/09/chickpea-picatta/

        I also make the lentil stew from the recipe you sent me quite frequently. That’s good stuff and not too hard to put together.

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        • I’ll try that chickpea dish. And see? I’ve already forgotten about the lentil stew though now that you mention it I do remember giving out a recipe to several people because it was good. Wonder which book that is in?

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        • I guess I nested too many replies. I couldn’t nest this one under your last response. I can copy and send that recipe back to you if you want. 🙂

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  4. I agree, there’s a lot of prep work. I tend to do as much prep as possible early in the day, when I still feel like doing something. Now that I’ve gotten a dehydrator, I dehydrate my veggies so all I have to do is rehydrate for a casserole, or toss them in the pot for soups or stews. I buy lots of fresh veggies when I shop, then spend a day slicing carrots to dehydrate – another day slicing or julienning zucchini – and so on. I store in mason jars with an oxygen absorber in my pantry. I buy frozen peas and green beans to dehydrate. Added benefit – i don’t need to use the big freezer in the garage because my refrigerator freezer isn’t full of veggies – theoretically that’ll reduce my electric bill. Like Robin, I tend to cook a lot because I don’t mind eating leftovers.

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    • I think I need to keep a record of the recipes I liked. I know there have been some, but I can’t remember many of them. So each time it’s like starting over and I have to pay close attention to the recipe and then it’s been about 50/50 if we liked the thing after all that work. If I had kept records over the couple of years by now I’d be doing recipes I knew and it would go better.

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  5. Eggplant stuffed with spinach is a yummy vegan dish. You can use almond milk before breading the eggplant, and I use gluten free crumbs. fry and then stuff with spinach, roll up and bake with tomato sauce.

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    • I have an eggplant parm vegan recipe where you bread the slices of eggplant and than bake it, flipping it over half way through. And then it goes into the dish. That might work for your recipe too. Yours sounds great. I love spinach. Is it hard to roll up the eggplant slices? How thin do you have to cut it?

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  6. It did nest. It didn’t look like it would.

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  7. I like all kinds of vegetables, I especially like them roasted or baked. Some things are lots of prep work…and I would forget the spices you don’t like! 🙂 We are pretty plain cooks here:)

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    • I did roasted vegetables a couple of nights ago, turnip, parsnip, potatoes, carrots, onion. Was very good. Didn’t think I liked turnips, but they get slightly sweet when they’re roasted. Could have put brussel sprouts in there too but didn’t have any.

      My husband doesn’t like spicy so I leave the stuff I suspect is hot out of everything. So many vegan recipes count on spices to make them interesting, when I take them out it gets pretty boring, at least to me. So I try to find a happy compromise.

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