Two summers ago I tried to grow a potted garden and months later, as my plants turned brown (and then black) while my neighbours pulled eggplants the size of my head out of their gardens, I realized I was not cut out for the green arts.
I am just too fussy and I need immediate gratification otherwise my attention disorder kicks in. Painstakingly watering a pepper tree everyday, which then, after three months, produces only two bell peppers both of which are infested with tiny but terrifying bugs, is just not for me. I'm glad I did it, though, because before that experience I had spent twenty plus years as a city girl, filling my grocery bin with produce and not taking the time to appreciate just how much patience, devotion and skill the precious folks called farmers possess so that they can supply us spoiled city dwellers with our fix of tomatoes. Though farmers and vegans don't always get along, it is because of them that I am able to sustain and thrive on my vegan diet and I hope they know that I appreciate it.
However, spring is here, and if you venture into the world of growing your own foodstuffs I would like to suggest the herb garden. Which is where I wish I would have started.
Maintaining a herb garden is pretty much the only outdoor activity that a frighteningly pale bookworm like myself can handle. Because it involves only five steps:
1) Go to the hardware store.
2) Find the herb garden section and select a pot that looks healthy (even if you don't know what "healthy" looks like).
3) Lug it to the cashier, huffing and puffing and grabbing your lower back. Even though it weighs all of ten pounds.
4) Take it home and put it in your backyard.
5) Forget about it until you decide you want to impress your friends with parsley garnish on their pasta.
Oh, and a friendly reminder: you don't really want to forget it out there when winter comes. Like I did.
Actually, that's a bold-faced lie. The first snowfall came and I stared out at it thinking it would be a good idea to at least put it in the garage. At this point I got distracted, most likely because someone came and dangled a set of keys in front of my face or something, so it stayed out there through many a blizzard. Strangely enough, spring came around and the entire thing was dead except for the bright green chives that suddenly started sprouting. Let it be known that henceforth chives are are to be used as the example of perseverance in the face of adversity.
Because (wo)man cannot live on chives alone, it's just about time to go out and buy myself another herb garden. Hopefully I can find one that has cilantro this year, because this recipe was really good and I'd love to have my own supply!
The recipe is found in the 10th anniversary edition of the How it All Vegan cookbook. I can't seem to find a digital copy although I could swear there was one a week ago when I first started researching this recipe. If you are better with Google than I am you just might be able to locate it.
While the vegan protein found in Asian-style dishes is typically tofu, I love that this recipe gets a bit adventurous and uses tempeh instead. While I'm good with a little bit of tofu, I find tempeh to be much easier to digest and it is so easily accessible these days it would be such a shame to not eat more of it.
You start by making this gorgeous green sauce with the cilantro:
And pan frying the tempeh:
And then you move onto the rest of the veggies and the coconut milk:
Whenever making stir fries and stir fry-like entities I usually use soba (buckwheat) noodles because they are always in stock at our supermarket (probably because we are the only people that buy them). This time I decided to live a little and bought some rice stick noodles, which I have bought and ruined in the past by cooking them too little/too much.
99 cents for this whole thing! What a steal! And if you follow the directions on the package rather than assuming you know what you're doing, you most likely won't ruin them.