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Gluttony, Rest, and Happiness

January 16, 2010

Some people adopt children.  Some people adopt dogs and cats.  Soon after I arrived home, I adopted my mother’s kitchen.

My mom is not a cook.  At least not in the traditional sense.  She heats things up.  She’s afraid of (okay, just strongly dislikes) chef’s knives and has about ten dried herbs/spices she uses in heavy rotation–garlic powder, dried parsley, cumin, paprika…  At one time she wanted to be a good cook but I think right now she’s like “screw this, I want Chinese food.”

When I visit her, I usually don’t cook much either.  Instead, I just crash and we eat a lot of takeout.  If it’s a holiday, she’ll heat up a Tofurky.  This time, after being in places with very small kitchens–or no kitchen at all–I set foot in her relatively spacious kitchen and thought, It’s playtime!!

Well, at first, it was just gluttony, rest, and happiness.  Just like old times.  A couple nights of eating junk food (I love you, Frito-Lay’s Bean Dip) and soup, while watching things like Judge Alex and American Idol.  Ah, America, my country ’tis of thee…

I ate a LOT of tofu scramble.  I hadn’t had scramble since sometime last summer and if you don’t make it at least once every six months they revoke your vegan card.  Ma had a ton of baby spinach that probably would have gone bad, so…

I could eat tofu scramble every day.  I like that I don’t really have to follow a recipe, I can just put in whatever’s available and it will still be okay. However, I’ve discovered that the best scrambles I’ve made included the following ingredients:

  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach or other green leafy
  • Zucchini or yellow squash
  • Chopped nuts.  Walnuts, yeah baby!
  • Spike seasoning
  • Red pepper flakes.  But then I put red pepper flakes in just about everything.  

Anyway.  After too much TV, I got bored and started going through my mother’s garage to find my cookbooks.  

Jungle Jim’s International Market is just a 15-minute drive from Ma’s house, and her refrigerator was nearly empty… I’d lose all credibility as a foodie if I were so close and didn’t stop at this 300,000-square-foot culinary crazyhouse.

My recipe of the week:  Leek and Bean Cassoulet [with Biscuits] from Veganomicon The name just sounded so…French.

Because I had procured some wonderful, crusty sourdough from JJ’s (on sale!), I omitted the biscuits that are supposed to be baked on top of the cassoulet.  Otherwise I followed the recipe to the letter, with fresh thyme and all that jazz.  And some flat-leaf parsley on top, look out!

I cooked, and Ma would wash dishes and clean the counters–awesome.

 She liked the cassoulet a lot, but to me it was only…meh.  Did I do something wrong?  Every blog and message board I’ve read that discussed this cassoulet just raves about it.  It was thick, hearty and filling–“great for a chilly winter night”–it just wasn’t very flavorful.  

I would try it again (with the biscuits) but, well… it gave me some of the worst gas I’ve ever had in my life.  The effect was almost immediate, and I woke up the next morning doubled over in pain.  My tum-tum just couldn’t handle the combination of leeks, onions, garlic and beans, I guess.  

I dunno.  C’est la vie. 

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