The kitchen is my playground. Sharing a love of food; teaching others about ingredients and cooking techniques, and fostering the camaraderie that exists around a kitchen table, counter or stove has always been my passion. Those around me know that there’s always something cooking (or baking) in my kitchen, and there’s always plenty go around.
I never saw myself as particularly creative in a hands-on way, until I picked up a chef's knife and a frying pan. Cooking was an outlet for me- a way to express my creativity, and a way to relax. (Seriously - I'm probably the only person on the planet who LOVES kitchen prep. Chopping, dicing, slicing...it's like therapy to me.)
The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I read cookbooks like novels. Watched about a million hours of the Food Network, read blogs and magazines for new recipes...and always in the back of my mind, thinking about what twist I could put on each dish.
Then, one day, I took everything I knew about cooking and tossed it out the window. We decided, as a family, to go vegan. Out went the meat, eggs, dairy and honey. In came veggies and legumes and tofu and so on. Suddenly, cooking - and eating, took on a whole new dimension. How would I make breakfast without eggs? How do you make tofu taste good? What do you mean I can't eat cheese anymore?
I’m a comfort food kind of gal. Mac and cheese is part of my soul, nachos are a food group, and ice cream, well ice cream solves everything. So, if I was going to make this change, it had to include plant-based versions of all my favorite comfort foods. And for me, it wasn't just about replacing them, it was about making them taste as good, or even better, than their non-vegan versions.
A couple of years ago, I created a company called Mama Vegan. If you're familiar with the Toronto plant-based scene, you've no doubt seen us (us being me and my incredibly adorable nine-year-old sidekick) at farmers markets and vegetarian festivals, offering the city a taste of our beefless Jamaican patties, cashew-based cheeses, apple-based honey and other plant-based goodies. What I loved most about my time running Mama Vegan was being able to share my culinary creations with others. Giving them a chance to taste really good food. And it made me hungry for more. For the opportunity to be more creative, share more ideas, and more food. Through social media I was able to express that creativity by sharing pictures and recipes, and in a small way, answering that call for more. And the more I've shared, the more I've been asked to share - and I'm so grateful for that support and encouragement! This book is my chance to connect more with those who, like me, love good food.
Somewhere in the depths of this journey to recreate vegan comfort foods came the idea to “write the book on it” - to share the recipes and dishes that have influenced our lifestyle and to help encourage anyone looking to add a little more veggies on to their plates. I wanted to create a book that was as appealing to people on every level of the plant-based spectrum from someone dabbling with the idea of meatless days, to the more experienced, - and everyone in between.
My rules for cooking are simple: the dish must be easy to make, it must use as many everyday ingredients as possible, and it must taste delicious!
Writing this book has been a dream of mine for so long, and I've spent years creating, testing, and perfecting each and every recipe. And seeing it in print, available to inspire others would be a dream come true. Not just to me, but to my daughters - who will not only inherit a love of good food and the skills and intuition to be creative in the kitchen, but who are experiencing this journey with me, and learning that with inspiration and determination, they can achieve anything.
I hope my journey inspires you to get creative in the kitchen and fuel your own passion for good food, and I really hope you'll consider supporting this project.
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk to this project is funding the printing. I want to see this book in print, so I chose to self-publish, along with submitting the manuscript to potential publishers. I have quite a demand for print copies and I do know that I can sell the quantities I print, it's just a matter of being able to produce them all in one run in order to take advantage of bulk printing rates.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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