Cooking with my Recipes
Recipe steps are listed in a certain order for a reason. Plant proteins cook differently than meat, so you can’t simply use them in your favorite meat recipe without making some appropriate modifications.
Don’t make substitutions for the suggested plant-based proteins:
It’s tempting to want to make substitutions, especially if a different brand of plant protein is on sale. (Hey, aren’t all vegetarian sausage products the same?) Unfortunately, they are not all the same. There are significant differences in texture and taste among different brands. Different products work better for certain recipes than others. If I recommend a specific brand of plant-based chicken cutlet, for example, I sought out and tried every brand of that product I could find before I made the recommendation.
Please review Meet My Favorite Plant-Based Proteins in which I describe some of the products used in my recipes and provide information from the websites of the companies that make those products. Substitute if you must, but please trust my suggestions in specific recipes for the best results.
Make other substitutions that suit your family’s palate:
Since I just advised you not to make substitutions in the plant proteins, you may wonder why I am giving you free rein to make other recipe substitutions. The reason is that the whole point of these recipes is to find ways to fool the carnivore in your family. You know better than anyone what they like to eat, and how spicy or bland they may like their food. For example, if you know they hate garlic, the four cloves of garlic I use in my Bolognese sauce may turn them off. Or if they love spicy foods, you’re going to want to add lots of jalapeños to the Mexican Pizza. If someone in your family is allergic to nuts or has an aversion to a certain vegetable, make appropriate substitutions. If a family member can’t eat soy or is gluten intolerant, you’ll want to check the section on meat analogues (Plant Proteins) to see what products to safely substitute.
Choose organic when possible:
My approach is to always buy organic produce if it is available unless the price differential between it and conventionally grown produce is a lot more than I am willing to pay. However, if the cost difference is nominal, I always choose organic.
Choose locally grown when possible:
Your local farmers market is probably a good source for organic produce (or at least local produce grown without pesticides and herbicides). Talk with the farmers. Often, the strict rules around organic labeling don’t allow farmers to advertise that they are organic because their fields aren’t certified or they haven’t been in business for the required length of time.
Focus on your cooking:
All of us like to think we’re better at multi-tasking than we actually are. What I’ve found is that when I try to do other things while also getting our dinner on the table, it actually takes me longer, and my results are not as good.
Accept help in the kitchen:
There’s an old saying that “many hands make light work.” It comes from an era when people worked together to tackle a big task, got it done more quickly, and enjoyed each other’s company during the process.
Cook with a glad heart!
If you approach the preparation of meals as drudgery rather than an act of love for your family, you will not enjoy cooking. I believe that everything you do should be done with a “glad heart.”