“Wow, it smells good in here. I’m getting hungry”

– Grandma –

Ever since that moment when I was 5 my grandmother and I have cooked and baked food together a lot of times through my childhood. Lovely moments I cherished and still remember. But unfortunately, this is when being an adult let you down sometimes between our hectic everyday life, it’s been a while since last time. All until some weeks ago.

I know my grandma isn’t all keen about making food especially for one. Something which I totally understand. So the other day when we were talking on the phone she mentioned the food habits she had. I came up with an idea and told her “let me come over and make you dinner. I can go grocery shopping and then make food at your place”. Something which she said yes to straight away while adding “then we can bake bread too”. “Regarding dinner just make whatever you want to make” she added. What an awesome idea this was! We had been talking about veganizing her bread recipe for a while as I adore her homemade bread. I still remember how tasty her freshly baked bread was. In my opinion, there’s no better bread out there than my grandmother’s recipe.  We agreed on a day the following week. This was going to be a blast. I just couldn’t wait for the day to arrive! It was finally time for some precious grandma and granddaughter time and in my mind, this is the perfect way to thank her for making me realize I wanted to become a chef when I was a kid. Making her food was and still is an honor.

From that exact moment, I started to think about what to make. I wanted it to be simple but not boring, nutritious without being too unfamiliar or to “hippie-like” as some people say. Not to much green stuff either due to the high doses of vitamin-K, which she can’t have. And lastly, of course, it had to taste amazing (as usual). At the same time, it had to be simple and not complicated to make so that we could enjoy our day together without me being down in the casserole all the time. I wanted to show her that vegan food is easy to make and to give her an idea of the variety there’s out there in the food world. But most of all I wanted to stock her body full of nutrients she could enjoy with a huge smile on her face. I could have veganized a traditional meal like pizza to show her we can eat the same in the plant-based world as everybody else, but it wasn’t good enough in my mind. As the days passed I had made up my mind on a mild Indian curry with rice. It would be perfect.

As the day got closer I got more and more excited. Finally, the day came and after a car ride and some grocery shopping, I arrived at my grandma’s place.

We started straight away to set the bread dough. This way it would have enough time to rise. To veganize it we simply switched the milk and butter for water and oil. At the same time catching up over stuff happening in our lives. While the dough rose I helped her with some computer stuff. You see my grandma is epic. She adapts and really tries to follow up to our modern society. You should have seen my face the day I got a friend request on facebook from her 8 years ago. I really am so proud of her. A while back she even hired a computer teacher. This way she could improve her computer skills. Think about how much the world has changed just over the past 30 years and imagine to keep up with it all. To be honest I even struggle from time to time with everything. So yeah, grandma is a superstar.

An hour later and the dough had expanded to twice its size. Grandma kneaded the dough, put it in molds to let it rise again. We had enough for 6 loaves of bread. Before putting them in the oven she mentioned that she normally brush some egg on the top. “No worries” I replied “we can just use the aquafaba or the liquid from this can of chickpeas. It holds so much protein it will do the work”. 1h later 6 beautiful loaves of bread were standing in front of us. “Now we should get a wet towel to put around the bread so that the crust won’t be too though,” grandma told me. “Oh wow, I didn’t know that! Thanks for the tip” How awesome is that! Looking at them I really started to get hungry. I just couldn’t wait to taste them.

 Now it was my time to make grandma the meal she deserves. I had already invited my dad and stepma Wilma for dinner too. So I should make a bunch of food, something which I’m good at. 

Cutting all of the ingredients I quickly started to sauté the onion, following by adding some ginger, garlic, and chili not long afterward. The kitchen started to catch up with the aromas, oh man that smelled good. Now time to add some carrots, followed by some homemade garam masala spice, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, nutmeg, bay leaves, a cinnamon stick and a couple of star anises. Occasionally stirring and adding a bit of water instead of oil to make sure it wouldn’t stick. 2 minutes went by and bam the bell pepper popped in. I just couldn’t stop taking deep breaths through my nose, really expand those nostrils and appreciate every aroma I could find in the air. I just love smelling food. It takes me away every time, calming me down instantly. “Wow, it smells good in here. I’m getting hungry”, grandma added. “Thank you, grandma. It’s going to smell even better soon”. Pouring in some coconut milk, stirring a couple of times and it was time to let the flavors dance under the lid for about 10 minutes. Now time to cook some rice. Add some veggie stock and star anise to the water for extra flavor and it would be ready in time. Mushrooms and chickpeas, a couple of minutes more and it was almost done. Turning of off the heat before adding some fresh tomatoes and chopped fresh cilantro. Just letting the tomatoes gently heat up before adjusting the taste with salt, pepper and my secret: a dash of coconut yogurt. Splendid!

By now my dad and Wilma had arrived and everybody was ready to eat. I completely forgot to tell you guys that I had got some nan bread to go with the meal. Of course, I mean there’s no curry without nan bread.

Everybody loved the food. The curry was mild and packed with flavors. Rich in nutrients and easy to do. I love eating around a table, catching up with my family, friends, and my boyfriend. It always makes me happy. People I care about and food at the same time, come on it can hardly get any better. It’s not uncommon that I would halfway into the meal ask “so what’s for dinner tomorrow?” Food and meals are cultures, it’s part of who we are. Sometimes it can be hard to “give up on” memories we have dear to our heart, to change our diet. But you’re not giving anything up! You’re just embracing a new side of food that you didn’t know existed. Epic tasty food! I strongly believe that leading by example and making delicious food for people will, if not turn them over, at least win a little part of their stomach, make them smile and maybe even surprise them in how tasty plants can be. Trust me, this former meat-lover-veggie-hater person know all about that. Either way, I’m happy I can show that the plant-based cuisine is packed with amazing food. As long as you get that wonderful taste, texture and warming feeling you’re sold and the animals spared along with our climate, earth, health, and starving human beings will thank you later on. Nothing is impossible! Please remember that!

Before heading back home the kitchen got cleaned and I divided the leftovers into containers. 8 meals at all and we were both happy. Grandma got some great meals, good nutrients and spared some time in the kitchen. As for me, well I just got to spend some time with my grandmother, dad, and step-mother. To pay back and say thanks to the wonderful person who got me into cooking in the first place. The feeling of helping is so valuable for me.

Oh just before heading back home, my aunt passed to say hi as she was in the neighborhood. She wanted to taste a bit of the curry so grandma put it into the microwave and pressed play. Me being too tired I didn’t think about it. Let’s just say it’s never a good idea to reheat chickpeas in a microwave haha

Quality family time with grandma, dad and my step mother

So what’s for dinner tomorrow?