Today marks five years since I published my first blog post. When I first started, there were only a handful of vegan blogs out there, which I read religiously. Some of them (Chocolate Covered Katie and Happy Herbivore, for example) are still going–with amazing success!–while others have sadly fallen away. My own blog has been somewhere in the middle (between “still going” and “falling away,” having never attempted nor approached the amazing success thing).
Now, of course, there are 63904850398 vegan food blogs and it’s overwhelming to think of how much our little lifestyle or movement or whatever you want to call it has evolved and spread. Combined with ridiculous advances in technology and information sharing, it’s no wonder that so many people have taken to the free media of blogging to share their passions.
Believe it or not, though, I didn’t set out to write a recap of the years or to wax poetic about veganism and technology.
Warm and Spicy Kale with Shiitake Mushrooms by Maria Guadagno (click for recipe)
Even though I’ve been prone to long blogging absences (I’m looking at you, 2010), I’ve thought of this website almost as a diary these five years. It means a lot to me to be able to look back at old posts. The memories that they evoke go far beyond the actual food that was eaten to remind me of wonderful times shared with family and friends. Even my bar exam posts are enjoyable for me to read, safely positioned as I am, two years removed from that hell.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s not any big deal that it’s 5 years for this blog. This blog is very unassuming. I use a free blogging service and I don’t have any fancy software for photo editing, nor do I engage in more than the bare minimum of food styling or background design. I take photos on my point-and-shoot digital camera (or, more recently, on the iPhone). I’ve never tried to promote the blog to sponsors or do anything with it other than give credit to some of the wonderful recipes and products I’ve encountered and show how fun and exciting a vegan diet can be, and how accessible, even fit into a very busy lifestyle. At the end of the day, I blog for me.
Caesar Salad with Avocado and Chickpeas by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (click for recipe)–LOVE THIS RECIPE
It might seem like the majority of my posts are about going to restaurants or making food from other people’s recipes, and that is accurate in a way. The truth is, I have thousands and thousands of recipes, in cookbooks obviously but mostly ones in electronic format that I’ve scoured and pooled from all corners of the Internet. Finding new recipes just happens to be super-exciting for me (nerd), and often times after I see a beautiful photo of a recipe on a blog, I get tunnel vision and just want to make THAT recipe immediately.
Nevertheless, I have learned so much about cooking since the inception of this blog. This is the one message I really want to convey in this post.
It started out with a simple lesson from my dad: the basis for any good dinner is onions and garlic sauteed in olive oil. Dad taught me to heat the oil a little, add garlic first so that it can infuse the oil, and then add the onions and cook until they’re a little translucent and a little browned. But I’ve since learned that with some meals, it isn’t as good to add garlic first, because it gets too browned/burnt by the end of the cooking process. For example, when I cook leafy greens or asparagus now, I like to warm the oil and add the veggies first, then the garlic once the veggies have started to soften. I’ve also learned that all veggies, especially leafy greens, taste amazing finished with a splash of lemon juice.
Banana Cupcakes from Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli (these were later topped with Lemon Icing)
Things like this aren’t groundbreaking, but my current grasp of them is a testament to my growth over the past 5 years, and the process that all of us as cooks undergo. Somehow, without studying the actual science behind the chemistry of cooking, we come to understand it. I know that, even when making something as simple as a stir fry, certain ingredients have to go in earlier because they take longer to cook (onions, broccoli, carrots) and others have to go in at the very very end because otherwise they will reduce to nothing (mushrooms, bean sprouts). Fresh herbs ALWAYS go in last. It’s second nature by now.
Over the years, I have learned to recognize when vegetables are done cooking by looking at them. I know how to get a great sear on a piece of tofu or tempeh. I know how to cook perfect brown rice and recently I’ve started doing it with add-ins too (most often with sliced shiitake mushrooms). These things were learned over time. Cooking from the recipes of others helped with this education. I am grateful for it and most of all, I truly love it.
Finally, I have learned about so many new foods and uses for foods since becoming vegan and since starting this blog. And I am still learning!
For example, just recently I tried jackfruit for the first time. I only learned about it in the past few months and now after making it I’m not really sure how this thing hasn’t exploded more forcefully in the vegan world. I mean, look at it:
It may be hard to totally tell from the picture, but in person this stuff looks exactly like pulled pork or chicken. Like, weirdly so.
I made Jackfruit Carnitas (click for recipe) from Made Just Right, the Earth Balance blog, and enjoyed them the first night as tacos.
Served on corn tortillas with a dab of Mindful Mayo, some vegan slaw (I went with Summer Slaw from Happy. Healthy. Life.–click for recipe), and fresh cilantro.
The Summer Slaw:
With the addition of barbecue sauce it truly takes on a pulled pork texture. I could see myself eating this at every barbecue from here on out. Again, amazing that I could have just discovered a brand new food!
Anyway, this post has gone on for long enough and I think I have made my points, but in closing, I am truly looking forward to continuing my journey as a cook and as a blogger!