A couple of weekends ago, I celebrated my 55th birthday by doing the Tough Mudder in Lake Tahoe. The Tough Mudder is a 12-mile obstacle course that traverses downhill ski trails, so there’s about 4000 feet to climb. Basically, it’s designed for people whose idea of a good time is scaling 10-foot walls, crawling through mud under barbed wire, crawling through mud under dangling, live electrical wires, traversing 30-foot monkey bars, and other garden variety crazy feats. Most of the time, you’re caked in mud or soaking wet. But it sure is fun, and the beer at the end of the course sure tastes good. Here I am (in the only picture I have of myself in the event) as I climb out of the “Arctic Zone”, a freezing pool of water filled with ice cubes which required some underwater swimming to get through. There was a photographer there poised to capture the grimaces as mudders climbed out of the ice bath. This was the least challenging obstacle for me, having swum in many chilly mountain lakes and rivers, and at least I wasn’t covered with mud at this moment- hence, the big smile.
But what’s Tough Mudder got to do with food? Almost everyone doing the course looked like they were in their twenties or thirties, and the majority of them also seemed to walk much of the time, while my husband and I ran the entire way. I’m sure that my vegan diet helped supply the physical fortitude to complete the course with energy to spare.
My life will continue to be like the Tough Mudder for the next couple of months – hectic, challenging, but fun. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to go to Chicago to demonstrate recipes from Artisan Vegan Cheese at Chicago Veganmania. I loved hanging out all weekend with the good folks from Book Publishing Company, and one of their authors, the fireball Ellen Jaffe Jones of Eat Vegan on $4 a Day. At the Chicago Diner, I complained that I had had mud pie instead of birthday cake on my birthday the weekend before, so we got two slices of vegan cake. Take a look at their indulgent goodness.
The next night, we romanced the epicurean delights at Karyn’s on Green, an ever-so-chic, LA type of place that celebrates the beauty of vegetables. Karyn’s featured an aged cheese plate which I enjoyed much, and the portobello entree was masterful.
The highlight of the weekend was meeting Vegan Black Metal Chef, Brian Manowitz. He walked into the kitchen where I was prepping, dressed in full regalia, and threw a mellow “Hey, how are you? I’m Brian.” Just the nicest guy. And his udon noodles were really yummy! I will forever delight in the photo of the two of us. How cool and mellow can a guy be?
This weekend, I’m off to the SF VegFest and IVU’s 40th Vegetarian Congress, where I’ll be demo-ing guess what? More cheese. On Monday, I’m catering the IVU reception at VegNews headquarters with cheese and sushi. Oh yes, you can take me out of Japan, but you can’t take Japan out of me.
The rest of the month is filled with a SoCal book tour (demos at Whole Food stores), local signings and talks, and a book launch party! If you’re local, do come! If you’re not, jet set!