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ARE YOU KIDDING ME?: Giving vegan recipes a whirl


dding vegan meals to the menu can be an eye-opening experience.
Adding vegan meals to the menu can be an eye-opening experience. - 123RF Stock Photo

I walked into a bookstore the other day and stumbled upon a box set of two thick recipe books for 50 per cent off. I might have mentioned I already have a vast wasteland of recipe books and enough recipes written on scrap paper to wallpaper the entire house, but in that moment, I forgot about my reality and instead fell in love with the very pretty pictures.

My favourite books in the world are picture books, which is always awkward when hosts at writer events ask me what my favourite books are. “Mother Goose!” is not a great answer when you’re 63, but whatever. My nose is now stuck in these books and I just have to have them.

It’s on my way to the cashier that I read the cover. These are vegan cookbooks. The first fingers of panic and hyperventilation begin to crawl up my spine. Oh, rats. What are vegans again? I know they don’t eat meat and, if I remember correctly, I don’t think they eat eggs or milk or cheese. And isn’t there something about gluten? No bread maybe? Can’t be. What would that leave?

Tic Tacs.

Stop it! They must be eating something. Look at the pretty pictures. I want to make changes anyway. So, I bought the books.

Opening a vegan cookbook and looking at the ingredients is not for the faint of heart. It takes several days to begin to see a pattern and get a list organized that you can take to the store, because while all of us have olive oil and vinegar in the pantry, most of us don’t have the 15 other oils and vinegars needed for these recipes.

Determined, I went to my local store with a very long list. And needless to say, I went alone because there was no way I wanted Hubby asking me why I needed flaxseed oil when we already have Crisco in the pantry. There are some things I don’t want to explain.

Too late. He spied the chalkboard in the kitchen.

“What’s tamari?”

“It’s gluten-free soy sauce.”

“We have soy sauce.”

“I’m getting tamari.”

“And what’s tahini? Sounds Hawaiian.”

“A sesame paste you need to make hummus.”

“Hummus? Isn’t that made with those horrifying ick peas?”

“Leave me alone.”

I won’t tell you my grocery bill because I’ve blocked it from my memory. But I did have to come home and reorganize the pantry. My supplies have now taken up two shelves. I had to prepare Hubby for this fact. I opened the door.

“These items belong to me. You are not to touch them. Don’t ask me about them. Do not rearrange them. I want to be able to grab a can of black beans and a bag of nutritional yeast without rooting for them. Understood?”

“Where are my cans of soup?”

“In the back, with the other poison.”

It’s astonishing how superior you feel when you are armed with what you believe is healthy.

My fridge is now a rainforest. I have huge bunches of leafy lettuce, kale, spinach, fresh parsley and cilantro overhanging jars of jam and dill pickles.

“You need a machete to find anything in here!” Hubby cries.

But I press on and in the last two days I’ve made tropical overnight oats, sweet potato soup, cauliflower rice, lentil soup and a lentil stew with cashew cream. This cashew cream, I’ve decided, is my new best friend. Raw cashews soaked overnight and then blended are a secret that vegans have been hiding from the rest of the world. But more likely, they’ve been telling us endlessly and we haven’t been listening. Well, I’m all ears now.

These soup recipes will keep me going throughout the winter months. The only issue will be having multiple containers of leftover soup piling up, because you know who doesn’t want to eat soup with “ick peas” or garlic or curry paste in it.

I wave my wooden spoon around, wiping damp hair away from my forehead, seeing as how I’ve been slaving away at the stove for several hours.

“How is it possible you think a can of soup is better than this?”

“A can of soup I can open in five seconds flat. I’d like to have lunch now, not three hours from now!”

“At the most, this took 35 minutes.”

“And why did you buy such small onions?”

“These are shallots, John. They taste better.”

“Says who?”

This is going to be a long winter. But I’m going to win.

Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband and a fat cat who couldn’t care less. Her 10th novel, Beholden, is in bookstores now.

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