Hell hasn’t frozen over, but there must be a frost warning because I’ve been cooking. A lot. For me, this is weird. Not only am I whipping up things in the kitchen, but I’m doing it all the time. It’s like I now speak Chinese and that’s all I want to do. In my spare time, I page through my new cookbooks. I want to tell friends about the things I’m creating. Miracles do happen and this development is Exhibit A. After a lifetime of not cooking, I’m making up for lost time.

Crazy Good Cookbooks

I started to love cooking after I decided to eat less meat.

I recently read the book Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat by Barbara J. King. It is about the sentience of animals and why we believe it’s okay to eat some creatures and not others. I’ve always been hesitant about eating meat but after reading this book, my hesitation has turned into disinterest. I want no part of it. I’m not ready to say I’m a vegetarian, but I’m leaning that way. (To read my earlier blog post on this topic, click here.)

But I need to eat and if I can no longer rely on a quick chicken breast out of the freezer for dinner, then I better get my butt in the kitchen.

A friend of mind recommended the plant-based cookbook Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat like you give a ****.  Warning: the language in this cookbook is crass and served in heaping portions, but if you can get past that, the recipes are unbelievably good – fresh, interesting, flavorful and healthy. I’ve made BBQ Black Bean Enchiladas with Grilled Peach Salsa and White Bean and Kale Wedding soup, among others. The food has been so delicious that it’s left me speechless.

This funny, potty-mouthed cookbook isn’t the only one I’ve been enjoying. I’ve also been making things from the Oh She Glows cookbooks by Angela Liddon and have found similar success. These are also plant-based recipes that have me freaking out, they are so delicious. I am now obsessed with homemade vanilla almond milk, chia pudding, veggie burgers, marinara sauce with mushrooms and lentils, granola and more.

I had no idea I could make such good food. This stuff is better than I’ve had in any restaurant. I’m excited and filled with anticipation before every snack and meal. It’s healthy and I feel good.

 Used to Bake

While cooking hasn’t been my forte, I used to bake a lot. But most baked goods fall in the dessert family and as I’ve gotten older, I needed to ditch them if I wanted my jeans to fit. Despite my baking less, I didn’t start cooking as a replacement activity.

I think my culinary reluctance stemmed from the fact that most recipes involved meat. Raw meat has always made me squeamish and so I would stick to recipes that involved a boneless chicken breast – something I wouldn’t have to manipulate or touch. I could not navigate anything that involved bones, ligaments, or blood. I kept waiting to mature out of this, but I never did. My options were limited and cooking was not a joy. I felt like a flunkie in the kitchen.

Plant-Based Cookbooks

My new cookbooks don’t use any meat or animal products. This may sound horrible and kind of sounds awful to me too, but the actual food has won me over. I like everything that the recipes call for and don’t have to will myself through a recipe that calls for a key ingredient that makes me feel bad. I’ve discovered a new world – one that’s fun, creative and rewarding: cooking plant-based food.

I know! It sounds tasteless. It may sound difficult. Nope and nope. I wouldn’t have believed how delicious and makeable these recipes are unless I’d experienced them first-hand.

Even Stranger: I Want to Entertain?

Because of my former cooking aversion, I’ve never been good at hosting dinner parties. The thought of having even one couple over for dinner has always filled me with fear. I rationalized my fear by saying cooking just wasn’t my thing and besides, our house wasn’t right for entertaining either.

But now that I have recipes that thrill me, I want to share the results with others. If my guests think a good meal must include meat, I may surprise them (or they may leave disappointed, but they definitely won’t leave hungry). I’ve been cured of my hostess-phobia in an unusual way. I decided to cut back on meat, which meant I needed to cook, which means I now want to host dinner parties? Go figure.

These unexpected developments have occurred because I didn’t want to ignore something any longer (my mixed feelings about meat) and decided to get to the bottom of it (by reading a book about animals’ sentience). My newfound love of cooking has come out of my willingness to look an issue I’d been avoiding for years.

Time and time again, life seems to work like that. I look at something I’d rather avoid and then unexpected blessings flow. I’m not sure why or how it works that way, but I like the rewards.

As for now, in my spare time, you know where to find me: in the kitchen. Anyone up for some oh-em-gee veggie burgers? Let me know. I have a bunch in the freezer and I want to share.