Not many people know but once I tried being a vegetarian. All I can say is I was young and impressionable and that it was during my competitive figure skating years. Lots of the girls I skated with hid their anorexia behind their vegetarianism, but that’s not why I did it. I did it because Alicia Silverstone, the star of “Clueless,” was a vegetarian. I tried in earnest but after a few months of eating nothing but edamame and baked potatoes with salsa, I caved. One Saturday after ballet and running Mulholland, I downed a quart of milk then asked my mother to make me a steak.
Since then I have employed an equal opportunities approach to eating. I love eating. Everything. Which is why if you asked me which food I could live without–Spanish peaches, French cherries, Hungarian peppers, Sicilian tuna, Black Angus beef, Maine lobster, or Cromer crab–I wouldn’t be able to answer you. To me, they’re all necessary and if I could never have one of them again I would mourn the fact.
CUT TO: ME IN MOURNING
I’ve been taking anticoagulants for over a month now and going in for blood work most every week. If you saw the bruises on my arms you’d think I was an extra on Vinyl. Friday I was told that on top of whatever pulmonary problems I have, I also have high cholesterol. Not yet high enough to be put on statins, but high enough to be categorized as high. Anyone who reads Chagrinnamon Toast knows I’m a woman who loves a piece of pie, but I’m also a woman who soaks her own beans, makes her own stock, and eats lots of vegetable dishes. I have to admit, this news came as a shock and the fact that I’ve been advised to cut out animal products in an effort to lower my cholesterol has me disheartened.
I feel like I have to learn to cook again. The thing is I do have several plant based cookbooks on my shelf though I seldom use them. Not because I don’t like the way the recipes taste, but because there is too much prep work involved. If a recipe requires me to grind spices and chop herbs for more than an hour, I’m not going to make it. Part of why I love roast chicken so much (or roast of any kind) is that it’s easy to prepare. I can walk away from it as the alchemy happens in the oven. I have yet to experience the same freedom or satisfaction when cooking vegetables. I’ll even admit that my ratatouille recipe I love is sometimes so tedious I can’t bother.
As for vegetables masquerading as meat. . . I don’t get it. It’s like some sort of kitchen cosplay where seitan pretends to be sausage and tofu turns into counterfeit crab. To each their own, but personally no thank you. In December, I went to one of Los Angeles’ best vegan restaurants. The signature dish I was told to try was the chicken and waffles. It was alright considering it was meat free but no one at Roscoe’s, not even if blind drunk, would have mistaken it for the real thing.
But enough of feeling sorry for myself. The fact remains, I have high cholesterol and need to adjust my diet accordingly. So if you have any recipe recommendations that don’t require tons of prep work or pretend soy is steak, then please share them. I’m only one week in and already bored of the meals I’ve been making. It’s not that they aren’t nice, it’s just that they smack of medieval asceticism. I would love bring them into the modern age.
Below is a recipe for spiced apple plum sauce. This weekend I ate it with steel cut oats and almonds. Today my daughter had it with yoghurt and honey as an after school snack. Until I learn how to bake without butter or coconut oil, this will remain my treat of choice.
1/2 inch of grated ginger
2 pieces cinnamon bark
1 star anise
1 tsp agave syrup
Peel and dice your fruit. Then place it in a saucepan with the spices and syrup. Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Simmer until thick. Pot in a sterilized jar and process for about 25 minutes in a water bath if you want to preserve it. If not, put it in a container in the fridge to chill and eat it within the week.