Omnivore Books

We stopped at Omnivore Books in San Francisco on our way up to Alex and Christa’s yesterday. It’s a fabulous cookbook store, and I was supposed to do an event here for Feast last year, but sadly had to cancel it (and the rest of the book tour) when COVID hit.

They still had some copies of Feast on hand, delightfully, which I signed, and said they’d be happy to have me come do an event anytime. I’m thinking in spring, when Vegan Serendib launches.

I managed to get out of the store after buying only three books, which was an act of great restraint on my part — I think I used up all my willpower for the week.

Sugar Beet Food Co-op Was Fun

Fun cooking class yesterday for Sugar Beet Food Co-op. We’d originally planned to do a spice grinding demo there in spring of 2020, but had to cancel due to the pandemic; I’m glad they’ve found an alternative approach for now. They have a whole series of Zoom food and beverage classes going, so locals, check them out!

SugarBeet picked two vegan recipes out of Feast of Serendib, devilled potatoes and green bean varai, and put together recipe ingredient kits for the participants — $20 each, which is a pretty fabulous deal for a one-hour class + enough food to feed at least two people.

I like this format a lot, it’s great for the participants! And I’m very happy to support our local grocery store co-op; Kevin and I are members. 🙂 Lovely to be able to stop by on our way back from work and pick up some yummy farm fresh goodies for dinner.

Several people didn’t see the announcement in time, or had a conflict yesterday, so I’ll reach to Sugar Beet to see if they want to do another one at some point. If you’re a local and interested, drop your name in the comments here, and I’ll let you know if it happens again.

An Intro for Vegan Serendib

Hey, so I needed to write an intro for Vegan Serendib — this would go *before* the basic intro that I wrote for Feast, which goes into a lot more detail about what Sri Lankan food is like, meal structure, etc. Here’s something I just drafted — what do you think?

Vegans in particular, how is this for you? I’d like to avoid writing anything off-putting, but I do also want to be up front about the fact that I’m not vegan myself!

*****

I must begin this with a confession; I am not actually vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. Which begs the question – why would I write a vegan cookbook?

Really, it’s because of Karina. A long time ago, I dated a girl who was vegetarian, leaning pretty close to vegan. We dated for three years, and in that time, we ate together a lot. She was vegetarian for moral reasons, and so to avoid causing her distress, I ate vegetarian during that time as well. And it was just fine – at least while I was cooking for us at home, because I was mostly cooking Sri Lankan food, and there are lots of delicious vegetarian/vegan options in our cuisine.

It was a little harder – sometimes a lot harder – when we went out to restaurants together, or to parties at friends’ homes. Often, the only vegetarian option was a salad, and a pretty boring salad at that – some leafy green, probably a little wilted from sitting around, and a few shreds of carrot and slices of tomato. We’d go home still hungry, and sad about not getting to enjoy deliciousness.

It gave Karina so much pleasure when we found a restaurant that had tasty vegetarian options, especially foods she hadn’t tried before. She’s an adventurous eater, and when I took her to visit Sri Lanka for the first time, she researched and had a whole list of restaurants and foods she wanted to try there. We were able to eat very well on our trip!

Flash forward to now – twenty years later, restaurants are generally better with their vegetarian options, with more substantial offerings, and a greater variety of them. But Sri Lankan cuisine is still hard to find in the U.S. – there are a few restaurants here and there, especially in New York, and if you go up to Toronto, you’ll find plenty. But where I live, in Chicago, you pretty much have to drive eight hours up to St. Paul to find a Sri Lankan restaurant.

So this book is for everyone who wants to explore Sri Lankan vegan cuisine, whether you’re vegan or not. Maybe you’re doing Meatless Mondays, or you’re exploring a more plant-based diet generally. Maybe you’re looking for more sustainable ways to eat and exist on this planet, or maybe you’re aiming towards a healthier diet. Maybe, like Karina, veganism is a moral choice for you.

Whatever the reason, what you’ll find in these pages is an exciting and wildly varied cuisine, with a host of different preparations for vegetables, fruits, even flowers. You’ll learn how to make a master recipe for roasted curry powder, and how to prepare seasoned onions to infuse your dishes with added flavor. You’ll be invited to try a host of traditional preparations, and also a few newer dishes, using ingredients that wouldn’t have been available on the island in the old days.

Hopefully, this book will help make cooking and eating vegan cuisine easier, more adventurous, fun, and most of all, fabulously delicious!

*****

Vegan Serendib Kickstarter Is Closed

I meant to post a reminder about the Kickstarter before it closed, but I forgot! Apologies, folks. But you can still pre-order Vegan Serendib from our site, no worries! Just visit:

www.serendibshop.com

The Kickstarter did very well, with 216 backers pledging $9,254 in the end (initial goal of $2500). I feel like I basically know how to do this Kickstarter thing now, with 5 projects, all successfully funded. Thank you all for your support — you folks know how to make a girl feel loved. 🙂

More soon — I have one final recipe to draft today, and then it’ll be time to start hunting recipe testers and working on interior design. If you’re interested in recipe testing, let me know — I’m asking that you test at least 5 recipes and send me your comments, in exchange for an ebook (of either Vegan or Feast, your choice) that you can gift to a friend or family member if you like.

https://www.kickstarter.com/…/vegan-serendib-a-sri…

Humble Finish

I have just one more item on the list of recipes I was going to make for Vegan Serendib — beet juice. Humble finish! But I think it will be tasty…

Going to be weird to be done. Well, done unless I add a few more recipes. Must. Resist. Temptation.

Cranberry-Rhubarb Chutney

(20-25 minutes, makes 1 quart)

Kevin loves both cranberries and rhubarb, so I decided to combine them, just for him. You can enjoy this chutney right away, or put it up and save it to pull out at the holidays. Festive! As with any chutney, adjust to your taste — you can make it a little sweeter, a little tangier, a little spicier.

NOTE: Rhubarb leaves are toxic and humans should never ingest them. Please resist the urge to save them for a salad.

1 red onion, chopped fine
2 T chopped ginger
1 c. apple cider vinegar
about 2 c. cranberries
1 c. chopped dates or golden raisins
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T jaggery or dark brown sugar (or more to taste)

about 1 c. chopped rhubarb stalks

1. Combine all ingredients except rhubarb in a medium pot, bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have popped and you have a sauce-like consistency.

2. Add rhubarb (if you add it at the beginning, it’ll lose all definition) and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring. Rhubarb should be soft and cooked through.

Serve room temperature; chutney is a fabulous sandwich spread. Will keep for two weeks in the fridge, or may be canned for long-term storage.

Serendib Grilling?

Just a quick note, with less than 48 hours less to go, we’ve hit our second stretch goal, woot! Thanks, folks, and welcome to the new backers! Going to try for one more stretch goal — if we make it to $10,000, I’ll do one more e-book sampler, Serendib Grilling.

Again, we’ll offer it in both vegan and non-vegan versions, with a baker’s dozen of recipes, and it’ll be sent to all backers, $1 and up. I’m going to set the completion date out a little later, just to give myself time, aiming for June 2022. Just in time for summer grilling around here…

https://www.kickstarter.com/…/vegan-serendib-a-sri…/

49 Hours Left to Go in My Kickstarter

So I thought now was a good time to do a quick review of how this Kickstarter project went. (If you’re a Kickstarter person, feel free to drop tips in the comments; newbies should feel free to ask questions too!)

Usually what you see with Kickstarter is a U-shaped distribution of activity, with a peak at the beginning when you launch (and tell your friends), a big trough through the middle of the month, and then another peak at the end (when people realize you’re about to run out of time, and they should hurry up if they want to get in on any discounts, etc).

What I’m usually trying to do with my Kickstarters now is set my initial goal as low as I can manage — whatever the minimum is for the project actually happening. That alleviates a lot of stress for me; I try hard to do enough promotion in those first days to actually meet the goal. Once it’s funded, I can relax a little. I don’t ever want to be in a situation like I was with my first Kickstarter, where I was up until 3 a.m. on the final night, waiting to see if it funded. (Kickstarter is all-or-nothing, so if you don’t meet your goal, you get zilch. Brutal.)

After that initial push, ideally you’d have plenty of promotion planned for the rest of the month, to keep pushing the bottom of the ‘U’ trough up as much as you can. In actuality, I got busy and did almost nothing about the Kickstarter for weeks after it funded. This is typical for me. I don’t necessarily recommend it. 🙂

Now, this isn’t actually an activity graph — it’s a funding graph, so it’s not measuring the same thing I was talking about initially above. (I’m not sure if Kickstarter has an activity graph somewhere that I can grab.) So it was never going to dip down again — it can only hold flat or go up.

But what you do see is that it continued to go up, a little slowly, over the course of the month. And then as we enter the last few days (and I do a bunch of posting), it goes up sharply, as one would expect.

We’ve just passed our second stretch goal, $7500, with an initial goal of $2500. So we’ve tripled what we originally set, and that will be enough for us to be nice and relaxed at Serendib Press as we actually produce the book; if I need to spend a little extra money on design or indexing or some such, it won’t be a stressor. That’s good.

I’m not going to do what I did with Feast and invest additional money in a print run; there’s only so many books I want to manage storage for, and right now, with Feast’s initial print run interrupted by the pandemic shelter-in-place starting right after launch day, I have as much stock on hand as I can manage.

So Vegan will be POD — that means it’s more like $20 to print a hardcover than $10, so when you add in all the other production costs, I’ll probably only make a dollar or two / book. (Let us not even try to calculate the amount of time I put into thinking about, reading about, developing recipes, and cooking them — that way lies madness.)

A dollar or two / book is fine; I never intended this book to be wildly profitable (I mean, if it happens, I won’t complain.) It’s really a labor of love; I mostly wanted it to exist in the world for all the vegans and vegetarians who would love Sri Lankan food, but who would be distressed by paging through Feast and passing all the non-vegan recipes. My food should only bring people joy. 🙂

Karina, love, this one is for you, with the fondest memories of our travels through Sri Lanka. I hope we get to go back before too long.