My first vegan meal was nothing special. It was Kroger brand oatmeal prepared with a little peanut butter and some sugar.
This was sort of an unremarkable beginning to being a vegan. I’d considered starting off with something more exotic, something that loudly declared, “I am a Vegan,” but it was 9 o’clock in the morning, New Year’s Day. Loud noises were to be avoided at all costs.
I had some other elaborate vegan/health-conscious sounding food in the house. While visiting my sister in Tennessee, she’d gifted me with all kinds of stuff from her kitchen, including “Super Oats Chia nuts and seeds” hot cereal blend and two bags of Simply Balanced Rainbow quinoa.
The quinoa vexed me a little. I wasn’t entirely sure on the pronunciation, and I’d had a bad experience with it.
A couple of years ago, after the weird grain became a super food darling, I bought some and tried to prepare it. The package I bought indicated you were supposed to wash the quinoa before you cooked it. So, I rinsed it off and strained it through the only thing I had –a plastic colander, like the kind you’d use to drain spaghetti.
Most of the tiny, atom-like grains poured right through the colander with the water and went right down the drain.
My sister laughed, and then gifted me with a small sieve.
I wasn’t quite ready to try it out, so, I stuck to the oatmeal.
It was filling and not all that different than what I typically have –boring, but oats are good for you.
Lunch was just some fruit. I really wasn’t that hungry, but dinner, I thought, needed to be something special.
The day before I’d settled up my 40 cent fine with Kanawha County Public Library and gone on a binge in the cookbook section of the downtown branch.
They had a really decent selection of vegan cookbooks. I checked out “Hearty Vegan Meals For Monster Appetites,” “The Joy of Vegan Baking,” and “Vegan with a Vengeance” because the cook on the cover looked a little punk rock and cool, like a roller derby girl –and I wanted to be cool, too.
I also picked up “Vegan on the Cheap,” because I am who I am, which is often underfunded.
Honestly, despite the pretty pictures, many of the recipes were kind of daunting, used ingredients I wasn’t really familiar with or wanted to dive into right off. I’m all for an adventure, but somehow marinating tofu for a stir fry seemed a little depressing.
But I took my time and found something in the “Vegan on the Cheap book” called Peanutty Pumpkin Stew. It had a bunch of ingredients, but none of them were particularly exotic –unless parsley comes across as exotic. Nothing came from the specialty section of the grocery store and none of it cost very much –a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of light kidney beans, a can of pumpkin.
I might have spent four bucks on the ingredients.
The book said it could be eaten by itself or served over rice. Making rice seemed like a pretty good backup plan. I could always heat up some frozen broccoli and drench the stuff in soy sauce or something if I failed, but the stew seemed like a pretty good bet.
And it was easy. Outside of chopping up one onion, one potato and one carrot and mincing one clove of garlic, it was mostly just empty a can of this or a can of that into the soup pot and remember to stir.
Other than having to go back to the grocery store to buy a can of pumpkin (I thought I had one left from Thanksgiving), the recipe went off without a hitch, and was awesome.
The stew was a really interesting mix of textures and flavors which included peanut, curry, chili peppers and peas.
According to the notes, the recipe made four to six servings, but with the rice, I got quite a bit more; and ate it for lunch and dinner the following day.
I’ll try to get permission to post the recipe.