How this Started, Part 1… A Cookbook

Theresa here, with my very first post.

Our journey to the point of discussing doing a local food challenge has been years in the making. Lest you think we started cold turkey, like these brave and intrepid individuals at the 100 Mile Diet, understand that we have been working toward this for a while.  I give kudos to those who can, in one fell swoop, change their entire way of acquiring and eating food.  However, that was not us.

In the grand year of 2003, our story begins. Laura and myself entered undergraduate school, and had our first taste of food freedom in college.  It was a small school, with a student body smaller than our high school graduating class.  Needless to say, this meant that there was only one cafeteria, with reasonably questionable food.  The dorms had no kitchens, communal or otherwise, and we were obligated to pay for the meal plan unless we had really extenuating circumstances (veganism didn’t count, they had ‘fresh’ tofu and a salad bar. Classy, right?).  After a semester of crappy food, several infections of various kinds that had never been experienced before and weight gains well over the freshman 15, Laura and I constructed a makeshift kitchen in our quad common room.  We had the largest refrigerator allowed (a grand 4.5 cf, if I remember correctly), a microwave, a toaster oven and an illegal single burner.  We had one pot and one pan.  We couldn’t run all of our cooking electronics at the same time without blowing the electricity on our dorm wing.

BUT!  We had oodles of enthusiasm, and a cookbook.  Not just any cook book, but the cookbook that would be our bible for the next 3 1/2 years.

This poor, abused book is considered one of the founding cookbooks of vegetarianism, and is our first guide to conscience eating.  Nikki and David Goldbeck’s American Wholefoods Cuisine majorly affected the way we approached food.  We cooked out of this cookbook nearly exclusively for all of undergraduate life.  The volume shown is one of the originals, given to us by Laura’s mother, who cooked from it in the 1980’s.  It has all of the wonderful notes mom added, which we actually took note of.  When it was reprinted in 2006, I bought a new copy to replace the old copy, and the spine has started to break on the new copy.  We have kept both books, and the old copy has a special place among our growing cookbook collection, and we frequently reference the book for guidance.

Some of our favorite recipes, past and present come from this book, though there are a few that we both gag to think about it.  We ate nut-grain loaves with soy sauce gravy far too much to really crave it any more.  But there are a few gems we still make.  Cauliflower is almost always doomed to be Vegetable Cheese Curry, and garbonzo beans are always considered for Algerian Chickpeas with Cheese Croquettes.

Beyond the face value of the recipes, there was a wealth of knowledge and experience to be had from this book.  We ate predominately vegetarian, and began experimenting with various vegetables to create the recipes in the book.  I came from a meat-potatoes-obligatory canned vegetable family, and this opened my eyes to whole grains, alternative proteins and the wonders of fresh vegetables.  Laura came from a family that ate out a lot, and this introduced her to the wonders of cooking, and the variety and freshness of home cooked food.  Together, we bonded while arguing about the difference between a chop and a dice in our badly decorated, poorly ventilated 10′ x 10′ dorm common room.

Needless to say, we had very tolerant roommates.

While looking for some of the ingredients for the recipes, we discovered the store that would introduce us to the wonders of local produce, that would take our cooking to the next level.

The next episode of this program will concern The Store.  Stay tuned for the next phase of our journey!

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