Sunday, February 17, 2013

Guest Post: I Was a Teenage Veggie

snark and circumstance cover

By Stephanie Wardrop, author of Snark and Circumstance

Like my heroine, Georgiana Barrett, I was a teenage vegetarian. But I did it back in the 1970s, in Pennsylvania Dutch country, where one starts the day with a plate of scrapple and ends it with some other form of sausage and three different kinds of starch on the plate. I brought a lot of peanut utter and jelly sandwiches in my lunches and kept a much lower profile than Georgia does. Her earlier commitment to her principles makes her a much better cook than I was at her age. It took me a long time to learn to be a good veg*n (vegan or vegetarian) cook.

At first I made a lot of boring stir fries back in the dark days before one could purchase tofu at your neighborhood grocery store. But I learned my way around those precious blocks of soybean curd and discovered that if you freeze it and thaw it, you can crumble up the tofu and it’s now a cruelty-free version of ground beef, so I sautéed it with taco seasonings and made lots of nachos that non-veggies gobbled up at parties.

Cheap and Easy Peanut Noodles

An early creation, designed for the student budget, was this version of peanut noodles using good ole’ ramen packs that often sell four for a dollar! Just throw out that nasty packet of MSG and other flavorings and do this instead:

  1. In one pot, boil your ramen noodles in plain water.
  2. Meanwhile, in another pan, put about a ¼ cup of peanut butter, ½ cup of water or broth, about 2 T of soy sauce, some sesame oil, some ginger (fresh or powdered), and some garlic in and heat it up. The peanut butter will melt into the sauce.
  3. Drain the noodles and mix them into your sauce. Serve with sesame seeds, some cilantro, chopped scallions, and peanuts.

But baking is my favorite culinary activity. Like Georgia, I love the alchemy of it. It feels like alchemy because I do not entirely understand the chemical processes that turn some pretty yucky tasting substances, like baking powder and unsweetened cocoa and whole wheat flour into something amazingly delicious. My favorite recipes at present come from two sources:

  • Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s amazing Post Punk Kitchen at In Snark, Georgia bakes her way through Moskowitz’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and you should do the same.
  • Chocolate Covered Katie at which features vegan treats that are not only delicious but healthy. Her chocolate cake with a secret ingredient will change your world. You will not taste the secret ingredient or even suspect its presence, and I say this as the mother of a boy who has never willingly eaten a vegetable but scarf’s down this cake. Just try it. Trust me.

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