I’m planning on punting Great Chefs Cook Vegan here pretty soon, and replacing it with my favorite blogger’s new cookbook. Lauren Ulm, who writes the totally food-porny VeganYumYum.com, is releasing her first cookbook next week. When Ulm went vegan, she was devoted to showing that vegan food can be gourmet and decadent. This is perfect for my cause!! I would pre-order it if I had money… but I’ll wait until next week when I get some $$.
In other news, I have been cooking some decent vegan food on my own from The Vegan Gourmet and of my own creation. The past week we’ve made Soba Noodles with Veggies and Peanut Sauce (from TVG) and a Mexican pizza. Other meals have been kind of cobbled together and not totally notable.
I have committed many of what I have referred to heretofore as “cheese offenses” in the past week, but plan to now call them “cheese explorations.” Yes, that’s an excuse for now. Don’t care.
Today is me and the big guy’s three year wedding anniversary — it’s so weird how that time flew by. Funny, at the time we were actually vegan (nearing the end of our 6 month tenure at that point) and had the most amazing vegan chocolate cupcakes at our wedding from Portland’s Saint Cupcake. At our one year anniversary, we did the traditional freeze-the-top-of-the-cake-and-eat-it thing, which most people say is totally gross. But ours was definitely not. Our cake had no eggs or butter or other shit in it that would make it spoil. It was as delicious as the day it was made.
It’s funny how I think about the time that’s passed as an old, married broad. I don’t picture our lavish vacations (because they don’t exist) or whatever else you’re supposed to think about; I always picture Joe and I in the kitchen. When we first started “hanging out” in my tiny downtown Spokane apartment (which literally was one wall in the living room with a stove and a fridge) we had no clue what we were doing. My parents had recently bought me a 90-piece kitchen set from Target — a box full of plastic spatulas and can-openers, simple pots and pans. An oven mitt. Joe and I would get together to cook meals — things we laugh at making now. I happily ate Fettucine Alfredo, betraying my personal law to NEVER eat white foods because Joe wanted some. We’d steam broccoli and eat it plain. We really had no clue what the hell we were doing. I got Joe to eat some Avocado Risotto I made — a neon green paste that was the consistency of putty. He didn’t tell me until much later how much it disgusted him. We still have a few survivors from that first kitchen kit in our catch-all utensil drawer.
We decided to try being vegetarians in our next kitchen. We’d experiment with making all of our favorite non-veg recipes meatless. Our spice rack grew from just Italian Seasoning and Oregano. We’d scour the aisles of Hastings for books that could help. But we never faltered — not eating meat was something that just came completely naturally to us. Joe was never a big meat guy and I’m such an animal freak, it really wasn’t hard for us at all. Cooking continued to be a daily activity for us. A de-frag from the day at the office. I think onions were sweating on the stove when Joe came into the kitchen with a wedding ring. I cried, said yes (duh), we hugged and kept cooking. I can’t really think of a better place for us to have decided to seal our relationship. The kitchen is where all of our big decisions have been made.
In a fit of anti-Spokane rage, we moved back to my hometown of Portland the next summer. We found a cute little apartment in Southeast Portland — a 1940s one with hardwood floors and built-ins. It was the checkered kitchen floor that sold me though. That’s where Joe talked me off mental ledge after mental ledge over my numerous insane jobs and suffering artist struggles. It was the site of our first kitchen fire (all was well) and where we tried veganism for the first time with Sarah Kramer’s La Dolce Vegan. It’s where we made mead with our friend Dan. Where I made a ravioli sauce that came out purple and my loving parents willingly choked it down. Where we had a three-cheese meal with our friends John and Leah later, one where I ate so much I had to go to sleep immediately. That was a good kitchen.
I don’t have pictures of our next kitchen because it was kind of gross. When we moved in we thought it was perfect. We even sat on the floor and ate Little Caesar’s (something we promptly swore to never do again — floor eating and Little Caesar’s).
We upped the ante with our next kitchen. It was beautiful. Here’s me loading the cupboards, ones we would promptly unload four months later after deciding to move
back to Spokane. I miss that kitchen — it was beautiful, and we made so many good meals in it. It was almost too nice for us. We don’t need the fancy, showy kitchen. Just a kitchen for two.
Our next kitchen was awful, which is probably why we hated everything else going on in our lives so much at the time. We kept finding bees swimming in the cat bowls. The cupboards were filthy no matter how much bleach we wiped them down with. The garbage disposal sounded like it was crunching human bones. Our landlord was a total prick and we got out of there as fast as we could.
In the five years since I’ve known Joe, we’ve done a lot of cooking in our seven different kitchens. Mostly good, quite a few terrible. But it’s where our collective heart is. In the fridge, over a bowl of steamed rice or a simmering pot of sauce — it’s where we’ll continue to solve our life problems and celebrate our achievements. We’re not hikers or bikers or whatever else other couples are; we’re eaters, and I like that.