The Conscious Kitchen
I found this blog via the rather excellent VegBlogs (another new blogroll addition that collects a fine set of vegan bloggers together in one handy place). It’s a cracking piece of work too, with Emilie (the author) showing just how exciting and flavoursome vegan food can, and should, be. Her blog is packed full of inspirational writing, clever ideas and stunning photographs that made me drool all over my keyboard.
The very first post I read was the author’s tale of the inspiration she’d found from getting her hands on a copy of ‘Soy Not Oi!’ (the closest thing you’ll ever find to a vegan punk bible) the best part of 20 years back, and then, just a couple of years ago, meeting up with J@ck, one of the original authors, and then, just for the hell of it, creating a celebratory 40th birthday meal for him using her battered (battered as in well-used, not dipped in batter) first edition of the book as the starting point and then, while chowing down on the (very tasty looking) end result, deciding to do a twentieth anniversary version. Like you do.
I always liked to cook when I was a kid, but I was quite a finicky eater. Once I’d left home, however, I had the freedom to really play in the kitchen, to try food in new ways (no more boiled-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life cabbage), to challenge my own tastebuds and capabilities (although I still can’t find a way to prepare aubergine that makes it any more attractive than eating a well-spiced slug), to cook how I wanted to cook, and things quickly changed. The fact that this independence also coincided with my move to veganism opened up a whole new world of epicurean pleasure, one that I’m still exploring to this day.
When I discovered ‘Soy Not Oi!’, it chimed perfectly with my by then well-developed approach. I didn’t always know what some of the ingredients were (especially the commercial pre-packaged stuff that pops up now and again), and cup measurements took a bit of getting used to – back then I didn’t have a clue what the volume of an American cup was, so had to guess and do a lot of experimenting to get things just right with some of the recipes, where exact quantities are necessary for things to turn out roughly as you’d expect them to (and not as some inedible swamp-like sludge or dry-as-a-nun’s-chuff lump). Now I’ve got some proper measuring cups, it ain’t half as difficult to get things right first time. But I learnt a lot of useful things without ’em (not least that a stick of margarine is about 4oz or 115g in the non-American world).
I bought five copies of the book back in the day, gave four away as birthday presents and kept one for myself. Like Emilie’s copy, mine too became so much more than a few dozen pages cranked out and stapled together by some young miscreants. It became an essential part of my life. The food is just one element. The attitude is far more important, striking a deep chord that still resonates in me all these years down the line.
Sadly, my original copy was lost in action somewhere along the line a few years back. Happily, AK Press have reprinted it and made it available for the next wave of culinarchists (UK readers can get it for a wallet-friendly £4 from Active Distro). My new(ish) copy is now back where it rightfully belongs, ready for action on my cookbook shelf and still getting the creative juices and saliva flowing.
J@ck and Emilie are looking for contributions to the anniversary edition and are “hoping to collect new recipes and non-recipes, jumping off points for diy explorations to fuel a new generation of vegan masterminds”. If you’d like to join in, email Emilie at email@example.com.
While you’re waiting for it to appear, do what I intend to do and check out Emilie’s blog on a regular basis. Your tastebuds will love you forever.
OP’s opinion for both: