For the past 15 years (yes, just over half of my life) I have been a vegetarian. My middle and high school years were spent eating mac and cheese, cheese ravioli, spaghetti and generally anything that involved cheese (processed cheese squares is what my mom bought). My family thought this was just a phase that I was going through and didn’t encourage me to try new things, like vegetables or tofu.
At 19 I moved out with my boyfriend at the time who was much more encouraging. This is when I discovered tofu and how I can manipulate the sauces surrounding the soy bean curd to make the sponge-like substance actually taste good.
Fast forward 8 years, numerous advancements in vegetarian foods, a new found experiential streak and you get me… a budding home chef, looking to expand my palette with more and more new vegetarian items.
I think back to my past eating habits and laugh at how unwilling I was to experiment.
This brings me to Thanksgiving…. Most years are spent gorging myself on all of the side items, over-stuffing myself with foods that are meant to be the opening bands for the star – the turkey. This year, I decided that I would finally test out the infamous tofurkey. I am not sure why it has taken me so long to try it, maybe because it seems to be more of a running joke with meat eaters who say eeek to tofurkey, maybe it is because I do not hear good things about the texture of this product, even from fellow veggies.
I purchase the product the day before Thanksgiving at Big John’s, Healdsburg’s local gourmet grocery store and I get an odd look from the cashier. I tell her it is the first year I am making one of these and she laughs and simply says “gross.” I wanted to ask if she was just saying gross to the thought of the tofurkey, or if she had actually tried it, but I decided against it.
Fellow vegetarian and food blogging friend, John from Anything Wine wrote about how it is the basting options that makes or breaks the tofurkey. The official Tofurkey website gives three options, the first being a savory baste and the second two are bastes with fruit.
I went with a combination of organic apple juice, soy sauce, olive oil, saffron, oregano, cayenne pepper and a bit of honey. I am trying new things here, so why not throw in a bit of each of my favorite spices. I also added potatoes, onions and mushrooms around this mysterious loaf.
In order to make sure the “roast” was done, I took a small chunk from the outside and tried it…. Okay, the texture is a bit rubbery and the taste was something similar to what I imagination turkey tastes like, but I was not all that impressed. I cut it open and added the baste and veggies to the top and took another bite. The second attempt was much better. The bite consisted of a mushroom, some of the stuffing and a bit of the tofurkey. I must say that the seasoning of it was perfect.
Altogether my opinion of tofurkey is still not very high because of the texture issue. It is too rubbery to eat on its own. Oh well, at least I tried something new….
More food blogging research has led me to a new site called Tastespotting which allows visitors to browse recipes and food articles based on the visual aspect of the recipe. It is my new favorite site and simple to use…. Just look through their homepage and if you see something that interests you, click on it.
“Founded on the idea that we eat first with our eyes, TasteSpotting is our obsessive, compulsive collection of eye-catching images that link to something deliciously interesting on the other side.”
I posted my happy pepper post on their site and that day I received over 300 visitors, and here I am basically writing to myself.
Some of my favoirte recipes from this week:
Green Lemonade from The Toddler Cafe (don’t let the blog name fool you, there are plenty of easy adult recipes here too… Or at least easy to make recipes for newbies like me). The images on this site are some of the most eye catching out of any food blog, a perfect site to be promoted on TasteSpotting (see picture above for the Green Lemonade).
I will be trying out the Green Lemonade drink this week…
The first night of my Labor Day weekend was spent drinking Papapietro Perry pinot noir and making vegetarian tacos with one of my own personal favorite chefs, my friend John. We picked tomatoes and bell peppers from his garden to make the veggie kabobs (bell peppers and onions) and salsa. As John went to throw away the stem of this bell pepper, I noticed the happy face on it. Needless to say, I had to send it to TwitPic, and later to my “things that make me laugh” album on Facebook.
Since Labor Day is the last “hurrah” of the summer, this weekend got me thinking about the next season and my personal favorite – Autumn! As I say time and time again, it is the little things in life that make it all worth it. Having my birthday land on the very first day of my favorite time of year just adds the cream cheese frosting to my cupcake or the happy face to my bell pepper. I am a huge fan of simplicity. It is that one simple moment that something happens that you know YOU were meant to see. That one glimpse of the cute guy looking you up and down, the butterfly that chose to land on your hand when you were just about to scratch your nose, or that nature-made happy face on a bell pepper.
One of my favorite simplistic fall activities is finding the dried up oak leaves that just fell on the ground and stomping on them, making the crushing sound. When I find a huge pile of perfectly dry oak leaves and make my first jump, nothing else in the world matters, it is just me, my ears and the leaves.
So many other things to look forward to: stuffed squash, heirloom tomatos, Australian boys in town for Crush, carmel apples, Halloween, sweaters, Pumpkin Ale, pinot drinking weather, the smell in the air here in Healdsburg during Crush, Halloween costumes, my move to Alexander Valley on October 1st and most importantly my second annual black and white birthday bash.
I have been a vegetarian for over 15 years. Yes, a vegetarian, not a vegan, not a “vegetarian” that occasionally eats chicken or fish. I don’t eat eggs, but yes, I eat items made with eggs (i.e., bread, cookies, etc.)…. I feel better now that is cleared up, yet, please don’t get me started on WHY I am a vegetarian, I honestly don’t even want to bother with my long rant about why…. I have already had to explain to all my friends who don’t understand.
One of my best friend’s loves to quote a bumper sticker that drives me nuts. “If animals were not meant to be eaten, why are they made of meat?”
Interesting fact that has barley anything to do with this post via Mintel Reports:
Improved health (65%) is the strongest motivator of respondents pursuing a vegetarian and vegan diet.
Anyways, this weekend is Memorial Day weekend and basically the start of Summer here in Sonoma County, California… More importantly, it is the start of BBQ season. It feels like it has been years since I have had a great veggie kabob. I was on Evite’s blog today and found an article that had a link to Williams-Sonoma’s BBQ plate to BBQ items like fajitas and NACHOS (seen above).
As a self-proclaimed cheese addict, I have to try out BBQ nachos!
Speaking of BBQ’n, I cannot even think about a BBQ without thinking about the type of wine I am going to drink but I never thought that the type of music I play will impact the taste of the wine. Check out Lia’s latest blog at Swirling Notions.com where she talks about how different music enhance the way wine tastes…. At least I can listen to the Stones and Hendrix while drinking my Clos du Bois Cabernet.
Any other vegetarian BBQ/music suggestions?