Monday, May 22, 2006

Real Food Daily

My sister got me a vegan cookbook for my birthday, the cookbook by the lady who made the walnut-lentil pate. I decided that anyone who designs something so powerfully delicious must really know what she is talking about. And so, I now embark on an adventure in "real food" cooking. This week, I decided to start with two of the dinners from the cookbook: enchiladas and spinach lasagna. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong!

Cooking with real food involves making everything from scratch. Everything. So the quick little recipe for enchiladas is actually long and complex, involving stops at 4 different markets in The Strip. After spending ten minutes failing miserably at parallel parking, the owner of a little deli had to come out and help me manuever the Maxima into the tiny space I found on 19th street. Not fun. They made so much freaking fun of me I almost didn't go into Penn Mac. But I needed Spanish olive oil.

I relaxed my nerves by eating fresh cheese and bread samples as I worked my way through the store, bottling the olive oil, weighing the garlic. I bartered a little bit about cilantro bunches. I smelled the fresh basil and reminded myself how amazing my home would smell through the week with the basil and cilantro breathing in the kitchen. Real food was going to be fragrant and delicious!

On to the Asian market I stumbled with 20 pounds of produce for two meals. To my horror, the dirty employees inside were smoking cigarettes and handling the tofu with their bare, dirty hands. The only helpful and clean person in the store was a little old lady who had never heard of kombu. "But it's a sea vegetable!" I yelled at her, despairing. I hadn't even made one recipe yet and I was losing my cool. We decided I could do without the sea vegetables when soaking my beans and she found me some cleanish tofu.

Luckily, the Mexican market was entirely clean, smoke free, and friendly. I bought 2 pounds of tomatillos for the salsa verde I have to make a day in advance and went home to discover how sticky and grimy tomatillos are inside their husks. Gross! My kitchen now does in fact smell lovely, but is covered in tomatillo seeds, cilantro bits, and chunks of homemade seitan. Two hours of cooking and two hours of shopping later, I have finished step one of the preparation necessary for one batch of enchiladas! I see why so many people give up entirely on animal by-products. It's so simple and fast to make yummy foods from scratch!

Hopefully I will have forgotten this struggle by tomorrow evening when I have a gluten flour enchilada drizzled with salsa verde in my mouth. Perhaps I can start making my own wine at home so I can at least be drunk while I am cooking my vegan delicacies. Seriously, though, at least this cooking experiment is healthier than my stint with Julia Child.

1 comment:

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