Lately, I've been looking for some new cooking challenges. I feel like I've cooked a chicken every way possible, and because I don't eat mammals, this cuts back on my potential cooking explorations. There are only so many things you can put an egg on before you've exhausted the list.
I've also cut way back on dairy products. Aside from the splash of milk in my morning coffee, I'm eating dairy only once or twice a week.
Which brings me to vegan cooking.
Eww, you might be thinking. Isn't that a bunch of twigs and leaves in a bowl?
Luckily, vegan cooking has come a long way. Even better, there are now lots of resources for vegan recipes that are also made from whole foods. I don't know about you, but a lot of vegans I've known have eaten as much processed crap as carnivores. As whole foods become more popular and readily available, vegan recipes are popping up more often to use them (and it's easier to find recipes without soy products, which I try to avoid because a) gross; and b) there are questions about how healthy they are for women).
(And I don't have to tell you that diets high in plant foods are way better for the Earth. Activism on a plate).
Recently, about 2/3 of my diet has been vegan. This means new techniques to learn and new cooking questions to answer, such as: how do you make foods full of vegetables not turn out mushy? And: how many ways can you actually use a cashew to mimic a dairy product?
Along the way, I've found some favorite resources that anyone, even carnivores, can enjoy:
Oh She Glows (cookbook and blog)
My mom bought me the cookbook for my birthday, and when she handed it to me, she said, "I don't mean you have to become one." Vegan, she meant. She just thought that the recipes here looked healthy and delicious. And boy, was she right. Every single recipe I've tried has been great - easy, interesting, and filled with wholesome things. Many of the recipes are gluten-free as well as vegan, meaning that they have all kinds of fun alternative grains. I've cooked fewer things from the blog than the cookbook, but author Angela Liddon has filled it with variations on some of her popular recipes, including lots of yummy-looking desserts.
Smitten Kitchen (cookbook and blog)
This is not a vegan or even vegetarian site, but author Deb Perelman was once a vegetarian and she continues to elevate humble vegetables into delicious and creative meals and sides - her website has both vegan and vegetarian categories in the index. Simply the recipe for slow cooker black bean ragout would make it one of the most highly used resources in my kitchen. (The recipe is from the cookbook and you can also find it here). I make the black bean ragout every few weeks, doling it out into zip-locs and freezing portions for use in any recipe that calls for black beans. Canned black beans seem positively blah in comparison.
Pinterest is a home cook's best friend. Not only can I peruse the recipes for hours on end, but it allows me to keep my recipes organized. Every week when I make my weekly meal plan, I get out my favorite cookbooks and my Kindle with Pinterest open on it -- I often find that I'll plan a whole week of meals just from Pinterest. It makes it easy to find recipes for any kind of special diet, and it can lead you to great blogs that you never would have discovered otherwise. (My veggie/vegan board is here).
The Post-Punk Kitchen (blog, and author Isa Chandra Moskowitz has also written some cookbooks and made videos and done all kinds of fun stuff).
Have you ever had a cookbook where everything you make from it is always a success? That's how I feel about the recipes I've made from the Post-Punk Kitchen. Ancho lentil tacos (see here)? The bomb. Brussels sprouts fried rice? To die for. Red lentil Thai chili? So warm and delicious. I admit, I haven't gotten as deep into the playlist on this site because I keep coming back to these awesome favorites. Isa loves to play with interesting flavors and the spices, and lots of her recipes are beloved by non-vegetarians as well. I'm pretty excited to try the stout shepherd's pie with a potato biscuit topping...
These are the resources that have gotten me started in this new cooking adventure. Any others I should know about?