When my daughter was 5, she infamously came into the kitchen where I was cooking dinner and informed that she was now a plant-eating dinosaur, not a meat-eating dinosaur. This was in her dinosaur-crazed era, obviously, and I took that to mean that we were role-playing.
I didn't realize that she had made a decision, right then and there, to be a complete vegetarian for four years. But that is exactly what she meant.
She stuck to it until she was 9. Imagine the fun in our house as I cooked for a cave-man-like carnivore husband and a meat-snubbing kid. And imagine the further fun as I searched for options to get protein into my growing child.
Now remember, this was before the all-cooking TV channels and the more mainstream discussions about being a vegetarian. As I do in times of crisis (okay...mini-crisis), I turned to the bookstore, where I discovered Quick Vegetarian Meals.
What made me choose this book above others? I'll be honest, it was the word "quick" and the word "vegetarian." The James Beard Award sticker on the front didn't hurt. I may not have had the Food Network, but I knew who he was.
I perhaps made a snap decision in the purchase, but over the years I have used this cookbook more than almost any other in my collection. I even scanned the battered and stained cover in all its glory so you could see just how much I love it.
The wonderful Jeanne Lemlin soothed my fears and introduced me to tempeh and tofu. She made me love to bake fresh loaves of quick bread and to use chickpeas in pasta and stews. Her eggless Best Chocolate Cake recipe is still the one I pull out for big events and the Fruit Juice Muffins will always remind me of Saturday mornings with my daughter.
I was worried before I wrote this item that perhaps this cookbook would no longer be in print. I should have known better. Far from being a dinosaur, it's still for sale and, in fact, if you Google the book's name you'll find many legions of fans. (1992 - Random House Publishing)