Have you ever thought about doing something really stupid? Well, recently I did and it took me a bit of time to snap out of it. I dreamt (both during the day and at night), I wrote songs (two), mulled it over long and hard in writing (many pages) and then eventually realized deep into my core (all of my being), that I was just not the type of person to do something that ridiculous. I understood that boredom is a good marketing agent and that it is sometimes courageous to continue onwards instead of changing something and then I let the matter go. Thank goodness! In this process, I realized that doing something really stupid can also be a lot of fun (damn!) and also, that I end up doing plenty of not so smart things without intending to and without the fun (again: damn!), and that maybe I need to be satisfied with taking care of those issues for the time being, before I can add anything more to my plate.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve been trying to be smarter about my food choices, something I’ve been intending to be more serious about for a while. It’s going really well, and I’m thankful for all this knowledge about food that is just at the tip of your fingers either on the internet or through books. I hope the blog will reflect this sooner or later, but the truth is I am currently not doing a lot of cooking. For one, I am really busy and have so much less time than I had last year. Which I’m greatful for. Then, I have a salad buffet at work that I can eat from every lunch, it has many great options, and other than the old contamination issue (which is – let’s face it – a pain for everyone with celiac disease), I’m greatly enjoying not taking food into work, and the part of not having to worry about what I will be eating for lunch the next day every evening. The gift of time is one not to be underestimated – and right now I mull in the routine of cooking things I have solid knowledge in. In a month, I will be two years gluten-free. I am amazed at how far I have come in terms of culinary skill (and being an expert about what I can and cannot eat) and just being relaxed about watching other eat delicious products which are bad for me.

Here in Cologne, spring is looming around the corner. I may still be wearing my wool hat in the mornings, but I leave my large wool scarf home most days. It’s light out when I leave the house and the birds chirp and fly around looking for comfortable nesting places and small branches to build homes with. It’s an exciting time! Today, a Sunday, we had amazing weather of blue skies and lots of sun. I went to meet up with a friend from university, who was in town for the day. I got as far as the subway, where something kept bothering me in my left eye. I eventually took out my contact lens. I dropped it. And was unable to locate it on myself. The people around me made a moderate effort of helping me and then excited the subway, because it was their turn. I had one stop to go, before I had to change trains and shook myself off while standing up. I stepped aside, trying to find my lens better, and heard a loud “crunch” beneath my soles. The search for my contact lens was over. I called my friend, told her I would be delayed, and for lack of time we decided to postpone our get together. I wandered back home – one eye sharp in focus, the other one blurry. At home, I put on my glasses and sat on the terrace with a lemonade and my homework. My neighbor was busy tending to her terrace and once I finished the last exercise in my Italian book, I began scurrying around my terrace, too. I ended up seeding lavender, parsley and nasturtium and with hands covered in black soil, dirt I was unable to remove beneath my nails.

After all of this excitement, I was very hungry. Before I hurried off to eat something, anything, I decided to cook an almost vegan bibimbop, a Korean dish, I have been wanting to try for a while. My friend David keeps telling me how much I would enjoy the one from the restaurant the and his husband always go to, but he’s all the way in California, and I only had today afternoon to make it. Bibimbap is a rice-based dish, covered in a plethora of brightly colored vegetables (and meat). The point is to give every vegetable a different flavor, so that you have a bit of an explosion and blending of flavors in your bowl. 07 Vegan Bibimbap klVegetarians get fried tofu – and a poached egg, which I decided to omit as I’m not a fan. Obviously, mine is a non-traditional take based on what the fridge happened to give me and what I happened to pick up at the Asian supermarket the other day. We enjoyed this dish so much, and I am sure I will be making it again quite soon. Maybe with a peanut-based sauce, maybe I’ll use some zucchini or some broccoli. So many options, yay! After lunch, I tidied up the kitchen and drove downtown. I bought a soft lens to replace the hard one I broke earlier today and brought back some ice cream from the Italian ice cream parlour. The owner is aware of gluten-free matters and it’s just the best ice cream, so fresh, so lush and so creamy! 08 Vegan Bibimbap klWhile my husband and I ate our ice cream on the terrace, I thought about doing stupid things without intending to, and without a bit fun factor. I guess when you are all grown up, this is what happens. It is kind of comforting.

one cup brown rice
one tsp vegetable oil
two carrots (peeled and cut into small sticks)
125g sugar peas, washed and cut in half
200g mung bean sprouts, washed
2 bamboo shots, washed and cut into thin slices
150g button mushrooms, washed and cut into thin slices
200g tofu, cut into small squares
ginger, honey, soy sauce, minced garlic, chili flakes, salt, pepper, green curry paste, vegetable broth

Place the vegetable oil and the brown rice in a heated pot. Wait until the brown rice has browned a little, and then add two and a half cups of water. While the rice boils (this will take a bit over half an hour), prepare the seasoned vegetables. 01 Vegan Bibimbap kl

Place the carrots in to a small pot, add half a tablespoon of butter, add the ginger and half a teaspoon of honey and about 50 ml of water. Let the carrots simmer until they are al dente (not too tender). Turn off the pot once they are done.

Meanwhile, place the tofu into a heated pan together with a drop of vegetable oil and a bit of salt.02 Vegan Bibimbap kl Fry until the tofu squares are crispy on all sides. Remove the tofu, and place into a small bowl. 05 Vegan Bibimbap klUse the same pan and, add the mushrooms and fry (I didn’t have to add any more vegetable oil) until they are somewhat golden brown. Add half a teaspoon of green curry paste and blend well. Remove mushrooms from pan once they are done, and place into a second small bowl.06 Vegan Bibimbap klThen, add ginger (I put it through a garlic masher), a bit of minced garlic (ditto) and another teasppon of vegetable oil to the empty pan. Add the mung bean sprouts, the bamboo shot slices and the sugar peas. Fry for about four minutes, then season with soy sauce, vegetable broth, pepper and chili flakes. 04 Vegan Bibimbapkl
Once the rice is done, place about two tablespoons on the bottom of a bowl. Distribute the honeyed carrots, the mushrooms, the crispy tofu and the mixed vegetables on top of the rice and serve immediately. Jal Mug Get Sum Ni Da!03 Vegan Bibimbap klJal Mug Get Sum Ni Da! (That’s Korean for “Bon Appetit!”)

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