Monday, October 1, 2007

Starting With a Clean Slate

I'm starting this blog with entries about what led up to me wanting to keep it. This post is backdated to approximately the date it happened.

There's something weird about cooking when you're not eating. Especially if you're not eating for an extended period of time.

I'm not skinny. Up until a couple of months ago, some might even have considered me fat, and I'd have agreed. I got fed up and decided to do something impetuous about it: I went on the Master Cleanse on September 1. And stayed on it for a month and a half.

So what did I do with all the time I saved by not eating? I read recipes. And looked up restaurants. And watched cooking shows online. And planned meals. I became completely obsessed with food, but it was all healthy, mostly vegan food. I bought a dehydrator, got some fruit, and dried it so my family could eat it. I read about the best places to find organic, locally grown produce. I wanted to grow my own herbs. And since I couldn't actually cook for myself, I cooked for others.

I've never been really pleased with my weight, but I always thought "If I could just start over from scratch, I'd take better care of myself. I wouldn't abuse my body with junk food and a lack of exercise if it was a healthy one. Starting out as I am and trying to get into shape is too much work, but if I could start in shape, I'd keep it." I guess I saw the Cleanse as my chance at a clean slate. I was very diligent about following it and went to the gym several times per week while on it (and continue to).

While I was in food research mode, I discovered Isa Chandra Moskowitz (author of VCTOTW) had written another cookbook before that: Vegan With a Vengeance. Obviously, I had to have it and despite not eating, I ran out and bought it right away and began ogling the recipes.

So I had some time off from work and decided to make my family some Byzantine Vegetable Stew. I bought all the ingredients, then lost the link to the recipe (I've obviously found it since). My family was totally disappointed by the lack of homemade food and I was pissed I wouldn't get to play with vegetables. Then I had a brilliant idea: I whipped out my new VWAV, looked for a recipe with similar ingredients and found Knish Madness. Knishes! WIN! I didn't have any spinach, so I made two batches of potato and one of sweet potato.

I don't know what kind of sweet potato can be soft enough to mash after sitting in the oven for forty minutes, then cooling, but it's certainly not the kind I bought! The knishes took at least two hours longer to prepare than I thought they would based on the book because of those damn sweet potatoes. I really wanted to put them all in the oven at once, but I started to worry the sweet potatoes would never soften, so I finished the potato ones while waiting for them. They were almost completely done baking by the time the sweet potatoes were soft enough to mash. Damn!

Aside from that, I really enjoyed making the knishes. It was like cooking and baking in one. And I had left over filling, which everyone loved to eat plain as a side dish. My brother's mantra has always been "Why would you ruin a perfectly good potato with something as nasty as onions?" so my jaw nearly hit the floor when I asked him what he thought of the potatoes and he said "They were amazing. Best. Potatoes. Ever. The onion was a nice touch." I had chopped the onions up so fine it was crazy, so there's the lesson of the day: want to trick a kid into eating something s/he hates? Chop it up small.

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