Last night, my mom decided to make something to bring on a day trip to visit out-of-state family. She wanted to use up some of the apples we’d picked a few weeks back and came to me for help choosing a recipe. The first thing that popped into my mind was the Apple Pie-Crumb Cake Muffin recipe from VWAV; I’ve never made them before but have wanted to try them for a while now. Mom thought they sounded excellent, but then while she was skimming the ingredient list she noticed that it called for apple cider.
“Oh no! We don’t have any apple cider! My plans are ruined!” she wailed.*
“Mom,” I said, calmly, “We have apples. We have a juicer. Just use fresh apple juice instead.”
“Ah. Well, I suppose I could do that… but apple cider is different than apple juice! It’s tarter! And, um, fermented!”
I sighed. “Yeah, but do you really think the muffins will be utterly ruined and inedible because you substitute one apple-based liquid for another? C’mon now, woman! Don’t be afraid – experiment in the kitchen!”
Experiment she did, and I’m happy to say that Mom’s muffins came out perfectly, as any muffin recipe by Isa is wont to do. But the point here is not that Isa is a muffin goddess but that my forays into vegan cooking have helped me to loosen up when I’m in the kitchen. Yes, it’s true – I used to be like my mother, scared to alter a recipe for fear something awful would happen, oh noez!1!!!11! Having always been a rule-abiding, authority-fearing good little girl, the discovery that I could use my intuition and my creative side in the kitchen was truly a liberating experience.
Today, even though I still love following recipes, I’m much more creative than ever when it comes to cooking. I am learning how to improvise, how to sense which ingredients would pair well with which spice, how to size up the state of my cookie dough and decide that, yes, it needs more flour, and – gasp – even how to eyeball measurements. For an obsessive-compulsive perfectionist, that’s a big step forward, folks. I never thought that I’d be capable of coming up with recipes of my own; somehow, the idea of experimenting with food always scared me a little bit. But how silly is that?! It’s just food! It’s not like I’m going to create Frankenstein’s monster and then have to chase it across the Arctic whilst contemplating nature vs. nurture and the duties of a creator! The worst that can happen is that I come up with an inedible mess that I have to throw in the compost. Big deal.
Nope, I’m not afraid any more, and I have vegan food – and vegan food blogs – to thank for all that. Without having discovered all these amazing veg*n blogs last year, I would never have had the courage to start trying new ingredients and to start experimenting in the kitchen. But I am so, so glad I did. So thank you, veganism, and thank you, vegan bloggers, for helping me to find a new passion and to break out of my rule-abiding, scaredy-cat shell!
…and now I’m off to mess around with a tried-and-true recipe from VWAV. ;)
*I may be exaggerating slightly for effect. Possibly. Just a little bit.