My first cookbook truly changed my life. I became vegetarian a few weeks before I got it and knew nothing about cooking. This was back in the 80’s when it wasn’t as easy to find quick substitutes or even vegetarian meals on every menu.
I read The New Moosewood Cookbook like it was fiction, curled up in a chair reading into the middle of the night. I processed all the how-to’s and recipes over and over again until the words ‘diced’ and ‘simmer’ were etched into my head. I immersed myself into Mollie’s words, but it was all of her beautiful illustrations that really made all those new words become clear.
Little by little I got confident enough to try a few recipes. While not everything turned out as planned – all of it got eaten. I made soups, stews, casseroles, and recipes that were from countries far away from Winston (Salem).
I branched out to more cookbooks by Mollie Katzen, Nava Atlas, and any other vegetarian cookbook I could get my hands on. I made my first loaf of bread from Laurel’s Kitchen and then moved on to bagels. I cooked for all my friends and even made up a few of my own recipes by the time I was in grad school.
I couldn’t have guessed that that one little copy of Moosewood would later turn into a new career. I never thought I’d have my own cookbook, much less would be starting on my fifth book now.
I’m sure you all have a story about learning to cook, maybe even a favorite book that changed the course of your cooking and eating. Please leave me your story in the comments, I’d love to hear them.
I wanted to share a recipe from my new cookbook, OATrageous Oatmeals. I love this Oat-chata, which is a horchata with an oaty twist. It’s great for breakfast or a cooling afternoon drink. You can even add a little rum and make it into an evening cocktail!
Oat-chata from OATrageous Oatmeals
gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free Horchata is a traditional Mexican beverage made with homemade rice milk, cinnamon and sweeteners. I’ve taken liberties with it here by adding in oats and almonds. It’s amazing served over ice and is the perfect drink for a hot summer day. I have to admit that I went through my first batch in a day—it is just that good. Consider yourself warned. Maybe go ahead and make a double batch.
- Put 2 cups (473 ml) of the water in a 4-cup (946-ml) sealable glass container along with the oats, almonds, rice and cinnamon. Soak overnight or between 8 to 24 hours.
- Once the soaking time is up, remove the cinnamon sticks and pour the mixture into a blender.
- Blend for 1 to 2 minutes or until most of the particles have broken down.
- Strain through a small mesh strainer into a bowl with a pour spout.
- Rinse the blender and strainer.
- Strain the mixture a second time into the blender.
- Add the other 2 cups (473 ml) of the water, agave, vanilla and stevia and blend well.
- Store leftovers in the fridge. Serve over ice.
milk with a touch of your sweetener, then taste and add more if necessary.
**For zero waste in this recipe, save the pulp you strain out of this milk and cook
it with about 1 to 2 cups (235 to 475 ml) of water over medium heat until the rice
particles become soft. I like to eat it as a breakfast with a little sweetener – yum!