I'm working towards my Ph.D. and, while not reading, studying, teaching, volunteering, or relaxing (what is that thing again?), I'm cooking! I've been a vegetarian for the past 3 years and I've loved every minute of it. People ask me why all the time, and there are really a whole list of reasons. To break my rationale down, it really falls into these categories: for the environment, for my health, for the economy, and, of course, for the animals.
My favorite things to cook
I love to bake, but I'm, personally, not a huge fan of baked goods. I love to feed other people, though, and baked goods are fabulous for that reason alone. My slow cooker is one of my best friends. Lately I've been into Indian food - I love a good heaping pile of paneer masala with a pile of rice and some garlic-herb naan.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mother was not a cook. My grandmother, on the other hand, grew up on a farm and, after living in the city for most of her adulthood while raising my mother and aunts, has returned to the farming lifestyle. She's the one who taught me how to cook traditional American homestead foods from scratch like breads, berry jams, pickles (she especially loves pickled eggs. I can't say I've acquired the taste yet), and pies.
My cooking triumphs
I've been trying to do at least one vegan meal a day, everyday, in addition to being a vegetarian. A lot of the pollution issues, economic issues, and cruelty issues with meat are mirrored in the diary industry so I've been trying to reduce my intake. Any time I can transform a favorite of mine into a vegan dish, I consider it a triumph. I made the most amazing banana-coconut milk muffins the other day. They disappeared in a heartbeat at a beach get-together.
My cooking tragedies
I think the real tragedy is that I often don't have enough time to cook! In addition to not having time to cook as often as I'd like, sometimes it's hard to get great ingredients. I try to go to the local farmer's markets, but, even on the weekends, my work and school can overwhelm my schedule and prevent me from picking up the really tasty veggies.