Ten Things to Know About Me, Food, & This Blog

Welcome!  You might remember Stumbling Toward Ahimsa as a short-lived recipe blog I had going several years ago; it faded into obscurity before it had even emerged from obscurity.  This new incarnation will serve as a recipe testing ground for my eventual cookbook (as yet untitled), as well as a place for me to talk about food – its history, science, preparation, philosophy, all that happy stuff.

Here are ten important things to know about my food philosophy going in:

1. I’m an ethical vegan, or 90% of one aiming for 98%.  As such there won’t be any animal products in any of my recipes.  This will not be a vegan ranty blog, but I will occasionally talk about it, and it will probably get emotional.  This is something I consider of vital importance and it informs my entire food and cooking life. I can definitely promise no mid-recipe ambushes – I won’t stop midway through to go on about the evils of the dairy industry when you thought you were just learning how to make pudding.  All posts will be as accurately labeled as I can make them.  If I need to tell you why I use a particular ingredient over another for environmental or ethical reasons I’ll put it at the end of the recipe in a note.  AT NO POINT will there be pictures of dead baby animals or other cruelty.  I can point you toward exposés and videos that will show you the horrific reality of factory farming but I’m not going to show that kind of thing here.

2.  I’m anti-diet.  Like, vehemently.  I did write an entire book on the subject, but suffice it to say, you’ll find no Paleo, low-carb, low-fat, “diet” “skinny” “clean” or “raw” stuff here.  I don’t do gluten free – my apologies to those with actual celiac whose serious health condition has been co-opted by the weight cycling industry.  For me veganism is not a weight loss diet, it’s a way of living intended to reduce the suffering my personal choices cause to other beings on this planet and the planet herself.  It’s not about the size of my ass, it’s about the call of my conscience.

The upshot of 1&2:  Pro-diet and anti-vegan comments will be deleted.  I can’t believe I have to actually say this among adults, but:  any kind of hateful or trolling commentary, including “concern trolling”  will be deleted.  This is not a debate blog, and it’s not a democracy.  There are plenty of places out there you can argue as viciously and condescendingly as you like.  This is not one of them.  Here, I am Queen Shit of Fuck Mountain, and I have unilateral control over the delete button.

3. I am lazy.  I don’t make my own vegetable broth from scratch, I don’t cook on Sundays to have food all week.  I’m doing good to plan ahead by a day.  That is actually one of the things I’d like to work on here on the blog – I’d like my cookbook to involve meal planning for singles, cheap lazy people, and others who don’t fit the typical meal-prep demographic.  But I love convenience foods, I love frozen and canned and prechopped veggies.  I have to be choosy because of finances, but anything I can do to make it more likely those vegetables will end up in my mouth and not rotting in the Drawer of Broken Dreams is in my mind the Best Idea Ever.

4.  Hates include:  Green smoothies, excessively spicy food, cabbage, the smell of vinegar, the slimy white food group (mayonnaise, ranch dressing, yogurt, etc), cooked bananas, okra, sea vegetables or any kind of fake fish, avocados, giant burritos (soggy tortillas, ew), and so far I’m really not on board with any of the nondairy cheeses though I am willing to be persuaded otherwise; martinis.

5.  Loves include:  Broccoli and cauliflower; the smell of garam masala or simmering curry; Gardein Szechuan Beefless Strips; bread dipped in things like hummus, pesto, or olive oil with garlic; big juicy portobello mushrooms cooked up like steak; a gigantic baked potato with butter and a crispy, salty skin; roasted veg like sweet potatoes, asparagus, and carrots; frozen banana “soft serve” with peanut butter and cinnamon; veggie pakoras; simple stir fried veg with rice and lots of soy sauce; frozen then thawed tofu, marinated and baked; pasta with garlic, butter, and sauteed mushrooms; coffee flavored anything; cupcakes; pumpkin muffins; margaritas.

6. I love cookbooks.  I consider them a form of literature – most people don’t realize how much writing skill and talent goes into creating one.  Let’s face it, in the modern world cookbooks aren’t so much how-to manuals as they are books of wishes and dreams; we read them and fantasize more than we take action.  My goal is to write a cookbook that does some of both – gives you recipes you’ll use, but also something to just sit down and read on a rainy day.

7.  I suck at food photography, or at least I do now.  That’s one thing I plan on doing through this blog – I’ve been doing research, practicing, and plan to take an online course or two on food photography.  I can’t afford nifty equipment but I’ve already learned that you can do amazing work with just an iPhone and a few sheets of white posterboard.  So chances are my first forays will be dreadful, but my hope is by the time I really get the cookbook underway I’ll have improved drastically.

8.  I know a shit-ton about food.  Things you’ll read about here besides recipes will include history, science, technique, information about equipment that is genuinely useful versus what’s just counter candy.  Top ten lists of products, books, cooking shows, and other resources. I went to culinary school for about six months – just long enough for the resulting debt to outweigh what I’d accumulated from three years at university – but my real culinary education came after that, once I found a fascination with food science and history.  Some of my favorite food books aren’t even cookbooks, but histories of spices, ingredients, and trailblazers in the culinary world.  I plan to share a lot of that here.

9.  There will be affiliate links on this blog.  That means if you click on a product I mention and go buy it from Amazon, I’ll get a wee kickback from the sale.

10. Examples of some of the things you’ll see here in addition to recipes:

The Grand Unified Pancake Theory
My 10 must-have kitchen doohickies
Cooking Playlists:  Curry Night
What’s a Maillard With You? Chemical reactions on your stove
Chopped: The Drinking Game
Vanilla: It’s Anything But
Five Random Facts About Cumin

If any of that sounds fun, stick around.  Welcome aboard, fellow eaters, and enjoy!

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