Nine years ago I decided to go vegan. I was living in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the time. While I had grown up vegetarian, going vegan had seemed to difficult. However, after taking the time to learn about the horrors of the dairy and egg industries, I simply could no longer eat eggs and cheese in good conscience. And so I took the plunge, which actually wasn’t as big of a deal as I had though it would be. Nine years later, the only thing I regret is not doing it sooner.
I pondered ideas of how to celebrate. I considered cooking dishes with 9 ingredients, thought about making a nine-course meal and then I came up with the perfect idea: tapas! I decided to make 9 tapas dishes. I read though recipe ideas online and even got out several of my vegan cookbooks. In the end, I came up with a menu highlighting variety.
Vegetable and Potato Salad
Stuffed Vine Leaves
Tofu Salad on Fresh Bread
The first thing I had to do was the create a shopping list. To be honest, the list wasn’t as long as I though it would be since I already had so many of the ingredients in my pantry. I went to two stores to find what I needed: Publix for the fresh vegetables and Tommy’s, a local supermarket specializing in European ingredients, for the stuffed grapes leaves, fresh green olives and fresh herbs.
First Day of Cooking
I looked at the menu to decide what to make first. Two of the dishes simply involved opening a can or jar: stuffed grape leaves (I wasn’t about to try to make these on my own just yet) and the marinated mushrooms (I already happened to have a jar of these in my pantry).
I then decided to cook the items needed to be chilled overnight first and save the few dishes that needed to be fresh until the day of my veganniversary.
Staring at a long list of dishes to make, I decided to get the easy stuff out of the way first. So, I began with the marinated Spanish olives, followed by the Spanish Bean Salad with Red Peppers. Once those were chilling in the fridge and I was able to crossed then off the list, I opened my Moosewood cookbook and made the tofu salad. This recipe required a lot of chopping and grating (carrots, celery, spring onions). It felt good to finish this dish and have it waiting in the fridge overnight before putting it on the fresh bread I was planning to make the next day.
At this point the dishes were added up in the sink so I took some time to wash them before continuing. I knew this would be just the first of many dish-washing episodes. With a clean sink I opened my World Vegetarian Cookbook by Sarah Brown and began making the Vegetable and Potato Salad (ensalade russe). This recipe involved boiling potatoes and carrots so while they were on the stove, I finished the chopping for the gazpacho.
I was so happy to be able to use my Vitamix for the gazpacho. Plus, I got to use the perfect soup container for it to chill in overnight.
Despite being tired after all that preparing, cooking and dish washing, I decided to make the vegan sauce (with a cashew base) for the Patatas Bravas. After several hours of cooking, I finally was able to relax on my couch a little and enjoy a little TV.
Second Day of Cooking
The day of my actual veganniversary I was tasked with baking fresh bread, the “patatas” part of Patatas Bravas and Stewed Garbanzos and Greens.
And so I got out my bread machine, a couple pots and got to work.
Putting It All Together
After the bread machine dinged, it was time to put it all together. It was wonderful to see the fruits of my labor over the past couple days all laid out on my table. I was proud of my accomplishments!
With all the hard work behind me, I enjoyed every bite of each dish. I loved the variety of flavors I chose. What a great way to celebrate my veganniversary!