Here’s a little philosophy for you. Our limitations make us stronger. It’s up to someone else to determine what are our limitations, and what “stronger” is, and whether or not it is beneficial to be “stronger.” I’m simply writing the equation, not defining it.
I’ve seen this idea to be the case in graphic design, in the lives of people and, of course, in food. Being confined to two colors (as opposed to all of them) forced me to be more creative in my infant days as a designer. Many single mothers learn to do as one person what, in our society, we are accustomed to do as two. And one can argue that the food from countries with little or no high quality ingredients excels. (Fortunately or not, our bloated, overfed and drugged-up animals are not available everywhere.)
These ideas marinated in my thoughts as I prepared food for a vegan potluck last week. By limiting my options to plants, grains and spices, perhaps I’d learn a little more about how to make food taste good, without relying on yummy freebies like butter and chicken stock. It takes skill and creativity to turn a bowl full of fruits and veggies into something delicious. I can’t say that have that skill – or creativity – but I’m willing to try. (I may as well try, as I will be forced to use those veggies more and more as I venture into my first summer as a CSA recipient.)
My heart threw a temper tantrum at the idea of making a peach dessert without butter. But some research brought me to a recipe for a vegan peach cobbler. Syrup and applesauce filled the role of my favorite fat.
And it’s humbling to realize that some foods – like this yellow watermelon – are better off left alone. It’s not the chef that shines, but the food itself.
Making this African soup reminded me that meat and animal products are not a given in most of the world. And they’re not necessarily necessary, either.
I’m not a convert, by any means. But I’m willing to learn the intricacies of the Vegan Way. And according to my equation, this might just make me stronger. Whatever that means.
African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas
From The Tropical Vegan Kitchen
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion (about 6 ounces), chopped
1 medium red bell pepper (about 6 ounces), chopped
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded and peeled, fresh or canned 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
3/4 cup cooked white or brown rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
4 pounds ripe peaches, peeled (if desired) and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated (I omitted)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus some oil to brush the surface
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Make the filling. In a large sauce pan, cook the peaches over low-medium heat, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the juices are being released. Sprinkle in flour, toss to coat. Add remaining ingredients, mix together and let cool.
2. Then make the dough. Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl mix together dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl wisk together wet ingredients, plus the lemon zest. Slowly pour wet into dry, mixing together dough with a wooden spoon or a firm spatula. Do not over work it.
3. Assemble the cobbler. Pour peach batter into 9×13 baking dish (if you have glass, that is best). Spoon dough mixture over the top, spread with a spoon. You can brush the top with a little oil, or spray it with a scant amount of oil (with real oil, not the aerosol kind). Put in oven and cook until peaches are bubbling and top is relatively firm, 15-20 minutes.