Thursday, September 15, 2011

Struggles and Reflections in September

Am I the worst vegan blogger ever or WHAT?!

I know.

When we lived in Okinawa, my schedule was such that I found all kinds of time for blogging.  I also had friends living right there with me who loved to cook and encouraged me to do it.  Here in Ireland, I have been ill more than is usual for me.  I've been sick with something or other more than half the time we've been here. I don't know if it's the air or the climate or just that I have a particular susceptibility to the germs and pollen here.  Whatever it is, I fell out of the habit of sharing my cooking with you all.  I have been meaning to do a kale blog for over a year now, and I promise I will eventually get around to it.  Kale has become an ingredient in almost everything I cook, and its versatility and nutritional benefits are just seemingly endless.

The tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack just came and passed.  I spent it alone at home while Ashley stood post at the American embassy here in Dublin.  The day passed kind of blank.  If you are an American, I think you will probably understand the way it felt.  It's not an active, whirling sort of sadness anymore.  It has settled into the pit of our stomachs as a more steady, gnawing, inactive sort of aching discomfort.  We are watching our nation implode with all sorts of economic and political problems while the media and government officials pit Americans against one another with the most hateful and horrible rhetoric I've ever heard.  Apparently, we're supposed to hate each other, now.  On a day that we all remember as the most horrifying we ever experienced, we were all a team.  Everyone obeyed traffic laws.  People quietly and without request just stopped being in a hurry and helped each other with whatever they could do.  I am struggling now to understand where that quality went and how things got from that to this.  My tiny hometown in Arkansas lost a member that day.  She was a stewardess on flight 11.  I had not spoken to her since I was a child, and she was a couple years older than me, so I never was close to her...but I still think of her every year on that day.  I remember her dressed in a band uniform with her hair - it was long then - and her gorgeous feline eyes crinkled in a smile.  She was laughing with someone.  That flash memory of her is all I can remember with any clarity.  Sara was her name.  All I am is sad for her family and ashamed that I didn't know her better when we were children.  Sigh.  It makes no sense, and I have grown very weary of the ugly and political ways that day and all the loss it brought is being used.

I know.  You don't come here for politics or sadness.  You come here for recipes and vegan ideas.  See...that's the problem.  That's what I come here for, too, and I haven't had many recipes or vegan ideas lately.  I struggle to stay vegan in Ireland.  The products and produce I grew accustomed to are not all available here.  Dairy is a very central focus of meals in Ireland, and I can't even find tofu on the grocery shelves three visits out of five.  I found a little store that sells almond milk and soy protein crumbles, but they aren't the kind I'm used to, and there is a learning curve.  I eat a lot of rice and vegetable bowls and I have found myself sliding back into dairy consumption on a relatively regular basis.  We order a lot of takeout because I find myself feeling unwilling to cook at home.  I get crispy chili tofu from the Chinese place and I get a veggie burrito bowl from the Mexican place, and I get flatbread pizza with no cheese from the pizza place.  It's very monotonous and repetitive.

So, to those of you who still come by to check for new posts periodically, God bless you for sticking by me.  :)  I am struggling.  I think all vegans struggle at some point or other because it's hard, sometimes, to live differently than the mainstream does.  I have fallen into a rut.  We eat out too much, I don't cook as often as I used to, our life here in Dublin is hectic and dotted with unpleasant governmental things, and I am often preoccupied.

I am an imperfect vegan.  I am an imperfect person.  I am the worst, most procrastinating-est blogger in the whole wide world.  But I am still here.  I use this blog, myself, as a cookbook of sorts.  Just last night, I pulled the laptop into the kitchen to use my lentil soup recipe.  It really is good, isn't it?  I've taken to adding chili paste in for killing sinus pressure.  At least for a while after eating a bowl, I can breathe through my nose.  /nod

Tell me some stories or send me some requests.  I would tell you all the posts I'm thinking of making, but it seems like every time I do that, it's destined not to happen.  Ha ha!  No more disappointing everyone.  Have a look at the old recipes.  Try out the colcannon for Halloween.  I have every intention of resurrecting the blog and getting my butt back to the kitchen where I am happiest.  This is just a slump time.  It will end eventually.

In the meantime, pray for America, pray for wisdom in our government, and pray for the little Nix family in Ireland.  We surely appreciate it.