Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Guest: Sammalbee, the Veggie Warrior

College can do some weird things to your eating habits, even after you graduate from the dining halls into your own apartment, but even the healthiest eaters (I’m a vegetarian, and somehow that translates into people’s heads as, “she is healthy.” Which is patently false. FALSE. Do you know what’s vegan? Fritos. And oreos. OREOS, you guys. That cream filling is a lie.) can be swayed by the lure of twinkies at four in the morning during an all-nighter. (Did you know that McDonald’s opens at 4:30 am? I am not kidding. I kind of wish I was. No one should have to be awake at 4:30 am, hash-browns or not.) I was weak, readers. And generally speaking, I got pretty lazy by the time senior year rolled around. Let’s not talk about the six months I spent interning in New York City and living off nothing but pre-cooked tofu from Trader Joe’s and raw vegetables. Technically healthy? Uh, sure. But I can’t really walk into a Trader Joe’s to this day without getting weird flashbacks of that tofu. Ick.

So, after graduation I wanted to reconnect with my love of books and ideas like Thoreau’s Walden and Pollan’s In Defense of Food. I moved to Good Earth Farm the summer after I graduated, and spent three months looking after chickens, cows, and my fellow farmers. It was awesome, but I wasn’t really prepared for the cooking duties that we traded off on. Not for myself, and definitely not for the 4-10 people I would regularly be cooking for: both the farm’s staff and whatever friends happened to drop by on the day I happened to be assigned cooking duties. It was stressful in a totally different way than my college all-nighters, exams, and internships had been. Feeding yourself is tough, but making food for other people is terrifying. What if they don’t like it? What if you burn it and everyone is waiting and hungry and pissed off? How the hell do you even clean a cast-iron pan properly?!?!

Needless to say, I learned a lot. And in the past year, I’ve really learned how to enjoy cooking for myself and for other people. It’s less of a scary, intimidating concept now than it is a chance to celebrate ingredients and people. A lot of people ask me why I decided to go vegetarian, or if I ever miss meat, and my answers are always the same. I honestly became vegetarian as a sort of dare with myself – I’d been thinking about doing it for years, and so I just did it one day, and decided to see how long it would “stick.” Five years later, here I am. And no, I don’t miss meat. That question always weirds me out. There are so many tasty foods in the world, and the U.S just happens to be really meat-centric for a lot of political reasons, and I’m not emotionally attached to the beans I eat, so why would I “miss” beef? Just saying.

So, okay. That’s why I love cooking and a little about why I went vegetarian. Steph has been taking pictures of the food I make this week, to give an idea of the kinds of things I cook for myself, which is actually pretty funny, because what I make tend to be… bowls. Like, actually bowls. I pull a sauté pan out of the cupboard and throw whatever I happen to have bought at the grocery store that week into it, sometimes with a side of rice or tortilla chips, and then throw the whole mess straight into a bowl. This week it’s broccoli, beets, tempeh and polenta. Everything is magenta! My hair used to be this exact color, I’m sure Steph has some old pictures of me she can throw in to illustrate below. Beet colored hair. Yeahhh, never thought of it like that. Makes me sound a lot less punk.

Anyway, that’s all I got. Here are some pictures of this week’s bowls, and if you want to come creep on my own blog, where I talk about nerdy things and which I update… er… sporadically, then I’m sure Steph will share a link.

Thanks for reading!

Day 1: Tomato, beets, broccoli, tempeh and polenta.

Day 2: Polenta and beets sauteed in olive oil with avacado slices on the side.

Day 3: Tempeh and brussel sprouts sauteed in olive oil, all thrown with basil and curry spices. 

Sammalbee herself. Check out her blog here: CLICK!

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