The Summer Retreat #amwriting #amvegan

This week I’m traveling, visiting my favorite summer retreat, Cannon Beach, Oregon. It’s about a four hour drive from my home, but we make a longer trip because we like to stop in Astoria.

I live all year for this week of rest and restoration. We join other members of our family there and reconnect over food, kite-flying, and long strolls on the beach.

The sunshine and occasionally stormy waters, the seabirds–this place inspires me and clears my head like no other place. I write whenever the muse seizes me. Our little condo is one we regularly rent. The owners have come to know us, and it’s perfectly situated, just steps from the beach but also in the middle of town. More importantly for us, it comes with a fully outfitted kitchen. As always, I cook many meals for my family, and my sister-in-law also cooks, so we don’t starve.

I know it seems odd to many people, but being vegan means, I eat nothing that came from an animal. No cheese, no meat, no eggs. People immediately think “how complicated!” but it’s not complicated at all if you know what to use instead. It’s simply a diet that celebrates vegetables and grains and all the many ways to eat them. Vegans consume nothing from animals, vegetarians may or may not eat dairy or eggs.

People can be inadvertently rude  when they hear I am vegan, but I realize it’s just ignorance speaking. I never engage in words with these people, as they have already pigeonholed me as a “looney fad dieter,” simply because I admit to my dirty little habit of not consuming other living creatures.

In case this worries you, we all know that humans do need a certain amount of protein as part of their balanced diet, and it is easy to get that nutrition from plants. In fact, even vegans eat far more grams of protein daily than the minimum daily requirements.

In a post for the website, Forks over Knives, Dr. Michael Greger answers the question that vegans and vegetarians hear all the time: “Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?”

The average recommended intake of protein is 42 grams a day.

Non-vegetarians eat way more than that (almost 80 grams), but so does everyone else.

Vegetarians and vegans actually average 70% more protein than they need every day (over 70 grams).

When a person changes to a completely different cuisine, we need to learn how to prepare the new-to-us ingredients, and we want to keep the same flavors and textures we are used to. My favorite comfort food recipes adapted easily to vegan. My food is simple to make and inexpensive. I make my own staples usually, from recipes found in my three favorite cookbooks.

The first book that has been worn out in my kitchen is The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples, by Miyoko Schinner.

The Blurb:

A guide to creating vegan versions of pantry staples–from dairy and meat substitutes such as vegan yogurt, mayo, bacon, and cheese, to dressings, sauces, cookies, and more.

Kitchen crafters know the pleasure of making their own staples and specialty foods, whether it’s cultured sour cream or a stellar soup stock. It’s a fresher, healthier, more natural approach to eating and living. Now vegans who are sick of buying over-processed, over-packaged products can finally join the homemade revolution.

Studded with full-color photos, The Homemade Vegan Pantry celebrates beautiful, handcrafted foods that don’t take a ton of time, from ice cream and pizza dough, to granola and breakfast sausage. Miyoko Schinner guides readers through the techniques for making French-style buttercreams, roasted tomatoes, and pasta without special equipment. Her easy methods make “slow food” fast, and full of flavor.

The Homemade Vegan Pantry raises the bar on plant-based cuisine, not only for vegans and vegetarians, but also for the growing number of Americans looking to eat lighter and healthier, and anyone interested in a handcrafted approach to food.

The next book that is a wonderful idea generator for me is Robin Robertson’s Veganize It!

The Blurb:

Vegan pantry staples plus enticing recipes in which to use them

This is the ultimate DIY pantry book, doing double duty with recipes for vegan staples, plus ideas on how to use them as building blocks in both new and classic recipes. Many cooks prefer to make their own basics rather than buy expensive store versions, which are often loaded with additives and preservatives. These easy recipes make it easy to stock a home pantry. Enjoy milks, cheeses, bacon, burgers, sausages, butter, and vegan Worcestershire sauce in your favorite dishes, and then try delicious recipes using the staples. Sample Bahn Mi, Sausage Biscuits, Meaty-Cheesy Pizza, Milk Shakes, Jambalaya–even Jerky and Lemon Meringue Pie. With more than 150 recipes and 50 color photos, this will become an indispensable cookbook for vegans–and everyone else who enjoys animal-free food.

I like to get fancy with my meals sometimes, especially during holidays. Seattle-based chef, Tommy McDonald’s Field Roast: 101 Artisan Vegan Meat Recipes to Cook, Share, and Savor is my best friend when I want to prepare something fancy that will impress folks. This cookbook has the recipes that fine restaurants should have but don’t.

The Blurb:

Hailed as 2015’s Company of the Year by VegNews Magazine, the Field Roast Grain Meat Co. offers their first cookbook, with over 100 delicious, satisfying vegan recipes.

In Field Roast, Chef Tommy McDonald shares fundamental techniques and tips that will enable you to make your own vegan meats at home–for everyday (sandwiches, burgers, meatloaf) to holiday (stuffed roast, anyone?), as well as recipes for using them in every meal from breakfast through dinner. The 100 recipes are flexible: want to make your own plant-based meats? Great! Want to use Field Roast products instead? That will work too. All you need are grains, veggies, and spices–easy-to-find whole food ingredients for authentic, hearty taste. With basics such as cutlets and sausages, along with dishes like Burnt Ends Biscuit Sandwich, Chicken Fried Field Roast and Waffles, Pastrami on Rye, Tuscan Shepherd’s Pie, Curry Katsu, (and even some favorite desserts), Field Roast brings new meaning to plant-based meat.

I prefer a hardbound cookbook to an online site when I am cooking. They get a bit messy, but that’s because they are well-used. I can write my notes and adjustments in them. When I became vegan, these three books were all I needed to learn how to keep the grand kids and carnivores in my family loving my cooking. I give these books as gifts to friends who choose to embrace vegan cuisine.

Rest assured, our vacation always involves both eating well and enjoying the company of my favorite people—and there is plenty of writing as that part of my life never stops for long. The many moods of the North Pacific never fail to inspire me!


Credits and Attributions:

Forks Over Knives, Do Vegetarians and Vegans Eat Enough Protein? © 2015 by Naomi Imatome-Yun, https://www.forksoverknives.com/do-vegetarians-and-vegans-eat-enough-protein/ (Accessed August 16, 2018)

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One response to “The Summer Retreat #amwriting #amvegan

  1. Pingback: #FineArtFriday: Two Photographs, Two Years Apart | Life in the Realm of Fantasy