The happiest of Happy New Years to you all. 2010 was a great, but exhausting year, for me and my family, so while I’m grateful for the many blessings we received, I am more than ready for the new year to begin, and with it new opportunities, new adventures, and new blessings.
Being raised in a Southern family, we always followed the tradition of eating black eyed peas and collard greens on New Years Day. It is said that the black eyed peas, because they swell when they cook, represent prosperity, and the greens represent money. We would certainly welcome prosperity and money, so I made sure to have an extra large helping of the peas and greens. And no good meal of Southern comfort food is complete without some mac & cheese, am I right?
I found the recipe for Hot Sauce-Glazed Tempeh in the vegan cookbook bible, otherwise known as Veganomicon, and the recipe for Spicy Black Eyed Peas & Collards from another great cookbook, Vegan Fire & Spice. The tempeh was really good, tender and with just the right amount of heat, and so well complemented by the garlic, ginger, and jalapeno in the Peas & Collards. I used the Teese Creamy Cheddar Vegan Sauce for the mac & cheese – it’s so easy, you just cook the macaroni, and mix in the Teese. It melts and coats the pasta just like a regular cheese sauce would, and is really delicious, with the added bonus of that familiar bright orange hue. Nobody would ever know that it was vegan if you didn’t tell them.
So with a very full tummy (that represents prosperity, right?), it’s now time to decide on my new year’s resolution. In addition to the usual, like exercise more, eat more fruit, etc., I am resolving to do the following in 2011:
1. Stop buying bottled water and always drink filtered water out of reusable containers. I rarely buy bottled water as it is, and always try to drink out of reusuable bottles, but I know that I can still do much better in this area. Working in tv production as I do, there are always cases of bottled water on set, and I feel guilty every time I see how many plastic bottles we go through over the course of a shoot. I’d also like to see this documentary Tapped, about all the evils of the bottled water industry.
2. Take a non-vegan to one of the farm animal sanctuaries. I wrote last year about my visit to the Woodstock Sanctuary, and was so moved by meeting the animals there and seeing all the amazing work that their staff does educating visitors about the horrors of the meat and dairy industries. In my opinion, in addition to making and serving delicious vegan food, it’s the other best kind of vegan outreach. I really don’t know how anyone could want to eat a lamb chop after petting a lamb and looking into those sweet eyes.
3. Use my dehydrator and eat more raw food. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I have a new and still unused dehydrator, and some great looking raw food books, so I need to put them to use already.
4. Write a cookbook. Yep, you heard it here first. I’ve been working on an outline for what I hope will be my first cookbook, and if you’re a fan of my blog then I think you’re really going to love the concept. I’m not quite ready to share the concept/working title with you just yet, but I hope to soon start tantalizing you with teaser photos so by the time the book is ready, you’ll want to actually buy it. If I don’t manage to find a publisher, I’ll make it available online.
5. Master a vegan croissant recipe, and a vegan French macaron recipe. Croissants and macarons are hard enough to make, vegan or non-, but as a vegan and a Francophile, it’s really a matter of pride for me to have these recipes in my arsenal. I have no idea how I’m going to make a vegan version of a French macaron, seeing as they are made out of egg whites, but you have my word that I’m going to give it my best shot.
6. Compete as a chef in a Veggie Conquest challenge. Yeah, I know I said I would do this last year, but I didn’t get around to it. I’ll do it this year, I swear.
7. Eat less packaged and processed food. Obviously I like to cook and make homemade dishes, but I also love my Field Roast sausages, my Gardein chick’n filets, and my Daiya cheeses. As someone who works full time, and the only one in the household who does the cooking, most nights when I get home late, tired and hungry, these products make my life a whole heck of a lot easier. And they taste great too. But we all know that packaged food, even the vegan kind, isn’t as good for your health, for the environment, or for your wallet, as eating fresh, whole foods. I’m going to make a big effort to buy less and make more from scratch.
And with that, I wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful, and fulfilling in every way New Year. May you be surrounded by kindness, compassion, and beauty in all things. It’s my year, the Year of the Rabbit, and I am so excited to see what it has in store for me and all of you.