Pasta! Homemade vegan raviolis in an amateur kitchen.

Long title. Bit unwieldy. That’s okay.

When I first decided to stay at home we started saving grocery money because, in my abundant free time, I started making more and more things by hand. A bag of rice and a tin of peas goes a long way when you’ve got the right spices, longer than I think most people realize.

Now that I’m vegan, it’s gotten even closer to scratch cooking, because vegan prepared foods are so, so expensive and dried chickpeas are so, so cheap. I’m making more and more things by hand and realizing how easy it really is to do that. Which is why today I am bringing you: Vegan Spinach Ravioli!

Is this a cooking blog? I don’t even know really.

I am using this recipe for the vegan pasta. Most pasta you buy at the store is vegan, but I had to make this one from scratch if I wanted to have a say in the filling. It’s a recipe that doesn’t require any fussy ratios or semolina flour, which I appreciate because I seriously cannot be bothered with that. Here we go!

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Be sure to pour yourself a glass of wine. This is integral to the pasta making process. Really any dough. You need a good buzz going so the dough can’t hurt your feelings when it refuses to cooperate.

It also helps to have Animal Hoarders on, although you can substitute your trashy tv show of choice.

K, first make the dough the way the site I linked to makes the dough. You’ll know it’s ready when kneading it gets a lot more pleasant. They say smooth, and they mean it. By the end there it was not sticky, not dry, kind of springy it was like a softer stress ball. It gave positive feedback. The dough loves you, it wants to reassure you, everything will be okay says the pretty ball of dough.

Cover the dough in the blanket. It deserves that compassion after being so good to you. Leave it for ten minutes so it can achieve oneness with the universe.

Push it flat with your hands and cut it into five pieces. They don’t have to be equal, because you’re adaptable. You got this. Get those suckers rolled into balls, and in a row.

Now comes the part where you will become keenly aware that you don’t own a rolling pin. Improvise. I used a water glass, but you can use a blender or a hairspray can or a toddler’s arm. Any cylinder in your house, get creative.

This is a good time to make your husband a drink and suggest he go play that video game he just bought because, surprise, he’s home on time and you’re not ready. It will work. It always works.

I don’t know how I was supposed to do this, but I microwaved spinach with some margarine, stirred it to distribute it all, then put a pinch of spinach in each place I wanted a ravioli to be. Like, a rough grid. Then I laid on of the dough pieces on top of that, and I cut out the grid, and I pulled it apart and pinched the edges.

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Pursuant to the directions, which I suddenly decided to read again, I laid them out in a single layer on plates to dry. Flipped them over after a bit. They didn’t really dry though because they were full of hot, wet spinach.

After, like, a normal amount of time I got a pot of water on to boil and threw the mostly dry raviolis in. They weren’t as dry as finished pasta should be, but David was already home, and I needed to get a move on.

My trick is to get the water to a boil, throw the pasta in, let it get to a boil again, and then turn the heat on medium low. Let it stay on medium low for like fifteen minutes. It will keep boiling and the pasta will double or triple in size. If you’re looking to cut calories this is a fun trick because you feel obscenely full on a 1/2 cup of pasta. They just get so big!

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Incidentally, I made an entire package of spinach for this and used barely any of it. While everything was cooking I ate the rest. I highly recommend this step.

David wanted avocado, I wanted marinara. Both options are vegan. It came out delicious and was so easy. If I can make pasta, literally anyone can make pasta. The one advice I would give is let the pasta adequately dry. The recipe said 10-15 minutes drying, I allowed maybe 20 minutes because of the filling, neither was enough. It came out chewy. Make these the day before if you can so they can sit in the open air for as long as they need to to gain the consistency of normal dry pasta. They refrigerate no problem, and boil up quick.

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Vegan Schmegan

I realized earlier that my friend group has changed drastically enough that pretty much no one outside of my family was there for my vegan/vegetarian phase. Which is a funny thing to realize because that “phase” lasted like ten years.

I’m not going to get into the moral reasoning or why I transitioned in either direction, but I will say that it shaped my tastes pretty heavily, and even though I have no problem eating meat nowadays I still don’t eat much of it unless I’m with my husband. We went to the in-laws’ the other day and there was steak on the table that had been carefully marinated for several days, an absolute treat, and I just ate a huge salad soaked in vinegar and oil. Didn’t touch the meat, not interested.

Since Samson was born I’ve made several half-hearted attempts at dieting. I’ve got about 13 pounds sticking around from the pregnancy, and I know that after my next one I’ll have another 13 at least. And I don’t want to just jump a dress size every time I have a baby, plus the couple pounds people naturally gain every year or so. I know that pregnancies are healthier when your starting weight is lower, so it would be a favor to myself to get back to where I was last summer. But dieting is stupid and punishing and in my opinion drives people a little nutso. There’s just something about giving humans a numbers system like calories, we get weird about it and try to game the system. At one point I talked myself down from the recommended 1400 calories to 700 because I kept being like, “If I eat one less snack than yesterday, I’ll lose weight that much faster!” By the time I realized what I was doing, I was eating less than a two year old should. Then I stopped doing that and bought a cake.

I’m also not really looking for a “lifestyle change”. I hate it when people say “you shouldn’t diet, you should seek to change your lifestyle permanently.” Or when people say, “I’m a skinny person trapped in a fat person’s body.” And I hate this image that gets passed around tumblr and pinterest and wherever else.

Let’s be real here. I’m trying to lose some weight, but I will most likely find it again. You go through different stages in your life, and while it’s good to be healthy, there’s nothing wrong with trying to slim down for summer and then fattening up again once it’s winter (better known as cookie season). There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Huh, this dress doesn’t fit. Well, I have a week till the party.” And then going on a cleanse real quick. If you’re an athlete, that’s awesome, but I’m not and I see no reason I should have to eat and exercise like one for the rest of my natural born life. We will all get fat, old, and wrinkled. Accept it and eat the cake.

So, knowing that I am too insane in the membrane to count calories and knowing that I just don’t care enough to be super fit, how do I intend to shift my body mass? By going back to old habits.

Like I said, my tastes were heavily shaped by my earlier vegetarianism, I can slip back into it easy peasy. I (eventually) figured out how to get all my nutrition and vitamins, so I’ll still be healthy. And the food groups you cut out by going vegan just so happen to be the most calorically dense food groups. A cube of cheese is the same calorically as an entire apple, and I don’t know about you, but right now I eat way more than a single cube of cheese a day.

I started this morning, and I’m already doing better than I have the past week. It’s hard to say, “Oh, I know I’m hungry, but I’m not allowed to eat anymore.” It’s much easier to say, “Oh, I can’t eat that because it’s got milk and stuff, but I can totally eat as many rasberries as I want.”

Incidentally, raspberry boxes (y’know that normally cost $6 for a handful and a half) are only $1.50 right now. That may or may not be contributing to my choices.