“Simple” is the keyword here. Most of the ingredients in most of these recipes are things I buy anyway put together in combinations that I’ve never considered before. I have a long list of recipes from this blog that I still want to make, although it is time to move on to another. I’ll get to them, someday. My favorite recipe was the mushroom and lentil ragu. And, next time, I think I’ll use twice as many mushrooms. I don’t think I had a least favorite this time. But, I did make some crucial mistakes on a couple dishes: (1) I used whole wheat pasta with my avocado and cucumber sauce, which was too wheat-y/think/heavy; conventional noodles next time. (2) I left way too many seeds from the hot peppers in the thai mushroom, pepper, and basil stir fry; better luck next time. Another favorite is the cinnamon blueberry smoothie! It’s such a great fall treat! I’ve adapted the recipe to be “green,” to include spinach and vanilla yogurt. Also, instead of using cinnamon in the smoothie, I’ve been using a concentrated brew of cinnamon tea for the base (I usually leave it overnight in about 8 oz water).
A question klkl1 asked me is if cooking vegan was more difficult and/or more expensive. The answer is complicated. According to Mint.com, I spent $19 more than usual on my groceries—but I’m not sure if that is reflective since I made a trip to Costco to buy a bunch of bulk staples. So, I might say it wasn’t more expensive, but it also wasn’t necessarily cheaper. I didn’t buy any meat products during the month, so I saved money there. However, I did buy a lot more veggies more often, and some that I wouldn’t normally use (like fresh mushrooms). Over all, though, I didn’t notice a huge extra cost. In September, I also ate out significantly less than in the summer months—that is, I didn’t have a single meal in a restaurant (though I spent ~$30 on cocktails and ~$5 on coffee). It’s encouraging that the cookbook club is motivating me to want to cook/eat at home rather than buy in the few restaurants here.
As for more difficult…I’m inclined to say no. As I noted above, “simple” is something this blogger certainly sticks to. The necessary ingredients were often things I buy anyway, but the recipes encouraged me to use them in very different ways than I’d normally do. For instance, the white bean and cauliflower alfredo sauce was mind-blowing! I always have white beans around, and frequently keep frozen cauliflower on hand to roast or to puree into mashed potatoes. I have been avoiding alfredo sauce for years, as I’ve discovered it’s one of those too-rich-in-lactose foods, and it was awesome to try something that approximates the dish. I love it with spinach, mushrooms, and chicken (with lots of garlic). There were some recipes in which I cut corners, since I am not actually a vegan. So I did use chicken bouillon when the recipes may have called for veggie broth/stock; and, I skipped the tofu in a couple recipes because I just don’t care for it (unless they’re deep fried cubes, but those I go to the Chinese restaurant for). I don’t think I bought any unusual ingredients, though I did end up buying a mortar & pestle. Mid-September I ran out of ground cumin and I also needed to cloves for the chocolate chai almonds (which are great for work/school snacks!). My former roommate had left whole cloves and whole cumin seeds here when she moved out in June. I bought a tiny one for ~$9 and it’s perhaps among the best money I’ve ever spent.
Overall, this was an extremely positive experience and there are so many more recipes I want to try—including a cashew ricotta, which I would then make a lasagna with. I’m really encouraged to eat more veggie/vegan dishes and much, much less meat. And, I’m trying to commit to eating organic and/or local meats if I can, which obviously cost more, so cutting down on the frequency of eating meat dishes is key. Trying all these vegan recipes is certainly good practice. Even on the blog for October, I am gravitating toward so many of the recipes in her vegetarian section.
As posted last week, I’ve chosen Once Upon a Cutting Board for October! Check out the “recipes by category” page! I’m mostly in it for all the squash and pumpkin recipes this month.
I also really failed on the potluck. Hopefully, this month!
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