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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Vegan by the Seat of Your Pants!

Teaching people doesn’t subtract value from what you do, it actually adds to it. When you teach someone how to do your work, you are, in effect, generating more interest in your work. People feel closer to your work because you’re letting them in on what you know.

Best of all, when you share your knowledge and your work with others, you receive an education in return.

—Austin Kleon, Show Your Work 


It’s very nearly a year now since this new site went up, and while things may not seem to have changed much on the surface, a lot of the bits on the site feel ripe for an update. You may have noticed the vegan creativity coaching pitch on the “learn with me” page, which I composed thinking that at some point I would feel ready for that sort of thing, but it hasn’t happened yet. Thanks to Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work, I’m thinking even more lately about how to share what I’ve learned, and private coaching has never felt like the right path for me. I’m a writer, not a motivational speaker (which is not to say I don’t want to work on developing those skills at some point, because I definitely, definitely do.) And while I’d also love to host workshops and other educational events (in person and online), those things take a ton of energy to organize and publicize, and even then you might get only a few signups.

I’m not meaning to be an Eeyore here, and you know I’m definitely not a “realist”—I’m only trying to be careful about where I’m putting my energy at any given time. Someday I will put my heart and verve into those endeavors—just not yet.

So what DO I feel ready for?

More of what I already do best.



Dandelion cashew pesto. Tastiest pesto I’ve made so far.


Anne and I were recently talking over the vegan meal planning suggestions I’d given her, and she said, “Why don’t you expand on this information and make it available as an ebook?”

The thing took shape in my head almost right away. A cookbook that takes the mystery out of vegan cooking, especially for people who say “I’m not a good cook.” A cookbook for people who buy cookbooks and never use them. A blueprint for kitchen confidence. An UNcookbook.

I do not have a culinary degree, and I have taken exactly one cooking lesson in my entire life. Paradoxically, my lack of training is precisely why I am qualified to write this sort of book—if I can do it without any specialized education, then so can you!

The basic idea is this: I’ll offer variations on a given dish, depending on your needs and preferences and what’s already in your cupboard and produce drawer (or, if the fridge is looking bare, what’s in season). So for instance, with a pesto, I’ll say you need just three basic ingredients: a green (or not—olives and sundried tomatoes are other options), a nut (or seed), and an oil. You don’t actually need to measure any of these ingredients; you add a couple handfuls of chopped greens and a couple handfuls of nuts and keep adding a bit of oil and blending in the food processor until smooth, adding salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and other seasonings to your taste. The more conversations I have about cooking at home with people who don’t enjoy it, the more I realize other people find “winging it” like this downright intimidating. The goal here is to make the preparation of basic hearty nutritious meals feel totally doable—even joyful.



Seitan ingredients. (I used a recipe out of Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap.)


Here’s my basic meal category list so far:

  • Salads
  • Stirfries
  • Soups and Stews
  • Spreads and Sauces
  • Cutlets

Each section will offer a basic framework, to which you add whatever ingredients suit you. For example, you can make roasted red pepper cutlets even if you are gluten free, because breadcrumbs are just one option. I’ll also include basic nutritional values so you can easily compare those options.

This project will be months in the making, of course, but I am already signing up “unrecipe” testers. (Thanks, Kath!) Let me know if you are interested, and also if you have any kitchen-related questions or quandaries you’d like to see me address in this ebook!


6 Comments to Vegan by the Seat of Your Pants!

  1. September 3, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Woo-woo!! Yay Camille! It’s going to be so fabulous! I made the chickpea salad for sandy yesterday . . he said, ” This is REALLY good!” Thanks, Camille!

  2. September 3, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    This is making me very happy, Camille! I would love to be one of your “unrecipe” testers as long as you don’t mind my being non-Vegan.

  3. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    September 7, 2014 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    This is such a great idea! I often don’t use cookbooks because they are overly complicated, require taking out a book ( ridiculous but true) or don’t have enticing photos.

    What about breakfasts and desserts?! The latter is especially important!

  4. Kelly's Gravatar Kelly
    September 23, 2014 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, yes, please!

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.