Some like it hot

June 24, 2012

I usually don’t bother making New Year’s resolutions anymore.  Oh, I understand the psychological appeal of a new, unsullied year to finally kick that bad habit or start a good one, but it’s just not my thing.  Most resolutions fail, due either to lofty goals, ill-defined goals, or zero execution plan.  For example, “I resolve to lose weight” is too vague.  “I resolve to lose 50 pounds” is ambitious – but not totally impossible, if it’s accompanied by a list of Hows, which it usually isn’t.  “I resolve to lose 20 pounds; to do so, I’ll cut out my daily can of soda and walk for half an hour four times a week” is manageable and well-laid out, but most people don’t demonstrate this foresight.

In my own case, “I resolve to become a gourmet vegan chef” is just…not…gonna…happen.  But I do have a bit of an addiction to printed matter, including numerous cookbooks.  I buy them, ooh and aah over the recipes, and then put them back on the bookshelf without actually doing anything vaguely domestic.  So, for the last couple years, I’ve had an “unspoken resolution” of sorts: I resolve will endeavour to cook at least one new dish per month.  The only catch?  It has to be “real food”, and not a cupcake or cookie recipe – something that can be eaten as a meal.  That’s only twelve instances of real cooking per year; who can’t handle that?  Some of my experiments have been…less than pleasing…but for the most part, this has been a really fun undertaking, and I’ve been motivated to try dishes I might not have otherwise.

I realized last week that I hadn’t yet tried a new recipe for June, but after flipping through a couple of books, it didn’t take me long to come up with a relatively cohesive meal plan.

Left to right: “Better Love Your Beans Bake” from Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites, and “Curried Cabbage and Peas” from Appetite for Reduction.  And before you ask, no, I’m not a professional food photographer.  😛  The cabbage dish looks way prettier in person, with curried-yellow cabbage, plus bright green peas and orange carrots dotting it.

Cross-section of the bean bake:

It looks all rich and creamy – it is! – and cheesy – it isn’t! – but the topping is reasonably healthy, with a cup of puréed chickpeas making up the bulk of it, plus some nondairy sour cream, almond milk, nutritional yeast, and spices.  I’m a little obsessed with chickpeas, so finding a new way to use them in a recipe was A-OK by me.

A note on Hearty Vegan Meals: that books is full of recipes that will satisfy omnivores.  Quite a few of them call for deep-frying, which doesn’t thrill me, but I haven’t hit a bad recipe yet out of the ones I’ve tried.

The curried cabbage is hot-hot-hot – I could have halved the curry powder and been happy – but the bean bake worked wonders to temper it.

The best part?  I get total points for cooking something that everyone can enjoy.

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