Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Vegetarian Cookbook Collection

I became a vegetarian in 1990 as a Sophomore at U.C Berkeley.  I was away from my conformist hometown and able to make decisions for myself for possibly the first time in my life.  I quite easily decided that I no longer wanted to kill animals to fuel my body.  It was as simple as that.  It was an easy decision and I am committed to my vegetarianism from all parts of my being. 

For the past 20+ years, I've been collecting vegetarian cookbooks.  It started out of necessity.  I became a vegetarian without really understanding what I would eat.  How would I nourish myself?  What would I bring for potlucks?  My image of a plate of food revolved primarily around an animal protein with some vegetables on the side. The internet didn't yet exist as prevalently as it does now, so I couldn't google search "vegetarian recipes" and "pin" them, so I began buying cookbooks. 

My last week of Law School, in Oregon, a vegetarian girlfriend and I went to Breitenbush Hot Springs.  Breitenbush is a wonderful place with meditation spaces, yoga, hot springs, hiking in the mountains, a beautiful river, and all vegetarian food.  The food was delicious.  I remember eating a loaf with gravy; I had never tasted something so delicious.  For breakfasts, there was granola, soymilk, tofu scrambles, and whole wheat waffles.  My mind expanded.  I bought the hot springs' cookbook before we left.  When I was in library school, I lent my Breitenbush cookbook to one of my classmates who claims that she lost it.  I plan to replace it, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Now, I have approximately 50 vegetarian cookbooks.  I also have a binder that I've created of favorite recipes and recipes that have been passed down in my family, and recipes that I use for Jewish holidays. 

If Scott and I are in someone else's house, and they have built in shelves in the kitchen, Scott often comments on how I would love that feature for my cookbook collection.  Until I get my dream kitchen, my cookbooks sit on these Ikea shelves which I bought and asked my neighbor to install. 

Ironically, perhaps, I don't cook much.  Back in my single days, my singular specialty was couscous with vegetables.  That's the only thing I remember cooking for daily nourishment.  On all the first dates I went on in my 30s, I would go to various restaurants and order some vegetarian option which was generally high carb and low protein (think spaghetti.)

One boyfriend back then was a passionate meat eater.  We had horrible fights after we returned home from an event where food was shared by everyone, and there was nothing for me to eat.  Despite my protests, I hosted a sushi making party for his birthday complete with many kinds of fish.  He was not at all respectful of my compassionate eating choices.  He was also the boyfriend who laughed at the fact that I was becoming a librarian - he didn't see it as a good career choice.  I wish I had seen that he was not the right one for me and broken up with him before he broke my heart.

When I dated my husband, it was the first time I had dated a vegetarian.  With him, I got to explore the world of vegetarian restaurants.  We could order anything off the menu.  It felt like I was back at Breitenbush with a bounty of vegetarian options without the need to feel apologetic.

I married that vegetarian boyfriend.  I still don't cook much, but I love my cookbook collection.  For special events, I pull down some of my cookbooks.  Recently, for Passover, I took a day and a half off from work to cook.  Here are 2 of the dishes I created - a yellow squash gratin, and a quinoa pancake thing.  When I focus my mind and cook, it all turns out pretty good, I think!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Me on Reality TV

I love reality TV.   I often wonder what I would be like as a reality TV star.  Would I be a controlling bitch who the rest of the cast and all of America grows to hate?  Or, would I become America's sweetheart because I'm a good listener and don't get involved in various dramas.

And, what my life would be like after my stint on TV.  Would I have celebrity friends in high places?  Would my family be featured in People magazine?

Which TV show would I be on?  Let's look at some possible scenarios. 

The Biggest Loser.  This is one of my favorite shows. First step for me to become a contestant is to gain 100 or more pounds.  Then, get cast on the show.  Once those awful and possibly impossible steps are accomplished, I get access to amazing trainers and a beautiful kitchen.  I get to spend time at a beautiful "ranch" in Southern California and make friends with Bob, Jillian and Dolvett.  I can envision myself hugging Bob at the finale and having him say that he's proud of me.  Would I be perceived as an uptight lawyer-type like Gina from the most recent season?  Or, could I somehow channel sweet sweet Lisa and only show that side of myself?  My imagined life after Biggest Loser would be wonderful.  I would be able to quit working for other people and not have to deal with petty office bullshit.  I'd have a platform and could then become a motivational speaker; I'd spend my time traveling, working out, eating healthy and telling others that they can have a healthy body weight too.  

Survivor.  I need perfect conditions to sleep.  I like sleeping on my tummy with a just right pillow under my head.  I don't like being surrounded by bugs; I like being clean; I don't love camping; I don't like being thirsty or hungry; and, I'm a vegetarian.  For all those reasons, I really can't see myself ever being a castaway on Survivor.  Sign me up to be a lifetime viewer of this show. 

Shark Tank.  This is the show which is probably the most natural fit for me.  Entrepreneurs go on this show to pitch their ideas in the hope of getting money and partners.  I'm a born entrepreneur from an entrepreneurial family.  (As a side note, I married a born entrepreneur also from an entrepreneurial family.  It'll be interesting to see how our daughter turns out.)  I'm not sure which business venture I'd pitch to them.  But, I'd love the opportunity to turn down an offer from Mr. Wonderful and form a partnership with Robert Herjavec- love him.

Project Runway.  Fashionistas sew clothes and get judged.  The designers have either been sewing for clients for a long time, or are newly minted fashion school graduates.  They are professional clothing makers.  They are judged and mentored by famous people in the fashion world - Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Michael Kors, and others including guest judges.  I love this show.  But, it sometimes seems a bit odd to me.  Creations that I love are often criticized by the judges, and designs that I think are horrid are praised.  I guess fashion is in the eye of the beholder.

A Hybrid Between Master Chef + Project Runway.  This is a show of my own creation.  Let's break down the elements.  Master Chef involves regular people (not trained chefs) who love cooking, and have some cooking skills.  Master Chef contestants work in an amazing kitchen with fabulous kitchen tools and wonderful ingredients.  Project Runway pits trained clothing designers against one another.  My hybrid TV show idea is to take people who have no formal sewing training, but who have some knack for it, and put them head to head with other kitchen table sewists.  The sewists would get access to amazing sewing machines, sergers, ruffle feet, and fabric.  Maybe they would take trips to Mood? 

Possible challenges could include:
  • Make an outfit for your daughter's (or son's) 3rd birthday party which is happening tomorrow.
  • Make your husband/brother/partner a set of work appropriate button down shirts that fit him. 
  • Make yourself a fabulous gown for some upcoming event.
  • Create a quilt for a new baby.  There can be a twist midway through this challenge to turn the quilt into a sundress.  
      Kitchen Table Sewists.  Any casting agents in the crowd?  Consider me for season #1. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monster Family

I work at a Law School.  I am a Law Librarian and an Adjunct Professor there.  Each year, the students hold a Public Interest auction in order to raise money so that students can work in the public interest and be somewhat compensated.

Last year, when the committee in charge of this auction asked me to contribute, I was supportive, but not sure what I would do.  I ended up crocheting this monster.  I didn't attend the auction, but I think it went for $20 to a student who wanted to give it to his 2 year old nephew.

This year, the organizer has convinced me to crochet a whole monster family.  Here's what I've come up with.  A few of my students have commented on how much they love this monster family.

We did the same thing back when I was in Law School.  I remember one year I made a knitted felt hat to be auctioned off.  For some reason, there was a bidding war for my hat.  One of my classmates had a bit of a crush on me and bid way too much for it.  I think he thought that some personal services came with his buying of the hat.  Ah, my awkward law school days.