I’ve been thinking a lot for the past few days about my story, and about sharing that story through writing. This heightened level of contemplation is thanks to some very inspiring speakers I heard this past weekend at the BlogHer Food conference that was right here in Seattle (lucky me!)
This was the first time I had ever been to any type of conference or gathering about blogging – hell, it was the first time I had ever talked about my blog to anyone besides family members and close friends. It was exhilarating. I laughed, I cried, I learned a ton. When it was over, I left with a lot to think about, but also with special memories and even a few new friends. I could not have asked for a better experience.
And after a few days of decompressing and letting everything that was shoved into my brain over the weekend settle in, there is one thing that has continued to bounce around and push for my attention. It is this idea of story and how important it is to tell your own unique story with your own voice, however you do it – on a blog, in a journal, in a book, whatever.
I want to focus on doing that more in what I share with you here. I want to share my story with you. I hope you’ll want to read it.
It’s more difficult to do, of course. To talk about my life, the people I love or have loved, the things I care about.
It takes more work to find the words to describe memories that live, whether recent or distant, as wordless snapshots in my mind. They live as smells. As tastes. As colors. Many of them live as food.
Often they come up, rise to the surface unbidden, while I’m cooking. While I’m doing something like chopping an onion or, as happened a couple of days ago, while I’m peeling chickpeas – a meditative (read: tedious) activity if ever there was one. It is during times like this, at the stove or the cutting board, deep in the well-worn motions of cooking that I know by heart, that my mind is calm and free to wander into little nooks and crannies it hasn’t visited for a while.
Peeling those chickpeas took me back to the first time I realized that I could cook. And not just that I could do it, but that I was good at it, that it was fun, that I loved it.
I was vegan at the time and was with a boyfriend that did not support that choice, to put it mildly, so it was kind tough going. (He’s not my boyfriend anymore.) That year that I was vegan though, it was a year of growth – I learned a lot about myself and about how to cook.
The night this particular dish came about I was home alone and hadn’t planned dinner, which generally meant I would be eating cereal and soy milk. On this night though, I remembered a recipe for a veggie curry from one of my vegan cookbooks that I really wanted to make. I looked it up and I was missing half the ingredients. I sighed and closed the book. But then, the little cheerleader inside my head decided that I was going to make the dish anyways, that I could do it and that it would be great! So I did.
I went into the kitchen and pulled every vegetable that I had out of the fridge and freezer. I pulled out a forgotten container of chickpeas, the remainder from a can used a few days earlier. I pulled out all the Indian-sounding spices in my cupboard. And I went to work.
I chopped and tasted and added a little of this and a little of that. What I came up with was delicious. I literally danced and clapped over my stove as I tasted the finished dish. I was happy not only because I had made myself a tasty and nutritious dinner, but because somewhere during the process of doing so I discovered that I. Could. Cook.
Of course, I was feeling so good about my instinct-driven, self-discovery-prompting dish that I didn’t write the recipe down…but maybe it’s better that way, since the beauty of it was in its spontaneity. I dug up the recipe that inspired it the other day and made another variation – again using the veggies and spices I had on hand at the time – that was equally as delicious and satisfying.
This time, I wanted to share it with you. I hope you’ll make your own version and that it leaves you with a story to tell.
Creamy Vegan Vegetable Curry
Adapted from The Survivor’s Handbook
Makes 4-5 servings
As is probably apparent by the story of my first go-round with this curry, you can really make it your own. Use whatever vegetables you happen to have in your fridge or whatever is seasonal. Just keep the general proportions of veggies to spices to coconut milk the same and you won’t be disappointed. Serve it over brown rice, or just slurp it up with a spoon.
Also, it probably doesn’t need to be said, but just in case: this is in no way an authentic Indian curry…it’s a white-girl-with-a-stocked-spice-cabinet curry, just so we’re clear.
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 large carrots, diced
- 2-3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 medium potato, cubed
- 1 cup cabbage, shredded
- 1 1/2 cup kale, chopped
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 1 15-ounce can (2 1/2 cups) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 14-ounce can coconut milk (light or regular)
- 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth (I like my curry thinner, omit this if you want it thicker)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
Other vegetables you could use in this recipe instead of/in addition to what is listed above:
- Cauliflower florets, chopped
- Broccoli florets, chopped
- Mushrooms, sliced
- Spinach, chopped
- Green onions, sliced
- Asparagus, diced
- Bok choy, chopped
- Swiss chard, chopped
- Bell pepper, diced
- Zucchini or other summer squash, diced
- Green beans, diced
- Leeks, chopped
- Sweet potato, diced
In a large saucepan or soup pot, sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in oil over medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes.
Add the remaining vegetables and all spices, cook for 2-4 minutes, stirring often.
Add the coconut milk, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low, simmer for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. If you’re not using potato, cook until all your vegetables reach your desired level of done-ness.
Stir in the peas and soy sauce and turn heat up to medium-high, cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has thickened.
Serve over brown rice, or on its own.