My new cookbook Big Vegan Flavor is now available!

RPL at Home (June 2024)

Welcome to the June 2024 edition of RPL at Home!

This month, I’m sharing the surreal experience of opening something I’ve been anticipating for 3+ years, one of the best books I’ve ever read, and a recap of our trip to Hawaii!

Get cozy with an iced coffee or tea and come hang out for a few minutes :)

Welcome to the June 2024 edition of RPL at Home, where I share what I’m up to when I’m not in the kitchen or in front of the camera. 

Each month (or so), I give you a glimpse into what I’m working on, habits I’m cultivating, things bringing me joy, books/TV shows/podcasts I’m enjoying, and more. Think of it as stream-of-consciousness blabbering meets a semi-curated list of recommendations meets life update. 

Where I’ve been!

I didn’t expect to be gone for so long! Of course, I haven’t really been gone. I’ve still been sharing recipes on YouTube, Instagram, and here, but I have been gone from sharing these personal updates with you for a few months. 

Mostly because life has been a whirlwind! Not in a bad way. Just, very very busy! 

I love writing these posts because they are more intimate (and if I’m being perfectly honest, I get to ramble without feeling the pressure to share “useful” information that an algorithm called Google may or may not surface), though they do take quite a bit of time to put together. 

My typical ritual for writing these posts is to block off my calendar for a few hours, cozy up with a cup of my favorite beverage, turn on the “jazz in the background” playlist on Spotify, and just type away without distraction. Then, a few days later, I return to clean up the post, as my stream-of-consciousness sometimes gets out of control / needs taming. 

Blocking off my calendar for a few hours, however, has been a bit challenging lately, hence the lack of RPL at Home posts. 

So here’s what I’ve been up to that’s been keeping me busy. 

📖 3 ½ years, and it’s finally ready!

If you’re a regular reader of the blog and or/an email subscriber, you probably already know that my new cookbook, Big Vegan Flavor, is coming out soon! 

And very recently, I FINALLY got to see the finished hardcopy book. I’m talking about the book. The one with all the recipes and photos printed inside, the same one that will be in your hands starting September 3rd!

This cookbook has been part of my life for SO long*, and there have been so many starts and stops and ups and downs. So, for a while, I honestly felt like it would never come to fruition. Like it would just be this beast of a project that I poured my whole self into but that no one else would ever see. 

So, being able to hold the actual book and flip through the pages was a pretty surreal experience. Like Omg, wait, what? It’s actually happening now?? And other people will get to have this book soon, too?? 

*If you’re wondering, how long has this book been part of my life? Well, I technically signed the contract for this book in February 2020(!), but 2020 was a hot mess of a year, so let’s say that I started working on this book, in earnest, in January 2021

Since then, here’s how the numbers shake out: 

  • 2,000+: number of recipes tested.
  • 75: % of recipes I re-photographed after not being satisfied with the first round
  • 2: number of times I submitted the “final” manuscript (the first one was 1.5x the length of the final one 😅)  
  • 608: number of pages in this book! 
  • 150: number of recipes in this book!

And while the hard part—the actual making of the book—is done, there has been so much to do in the last few months that has been keeping me busy.  

Marketing calls, PR meetings and pitches, creating bonus freebie content for folks who so kindly preorder the book (THANK YOU!), planning out social media content to support the launch, filming companion video content for the book, scheduling (so much scheduling!). 

Quick aside: If you are a journalist and would be interested in covering Big Vegan Flavor, please do get in touch.

Or, if you have a journalist friend who you think would be interested in covering my book, I would so appreciate it if you told them about it. Media coverage is super important in changing the narrative that vegan food is boring and flavorless!

It’s been a lot of work, but I also feel so fortunate to be able to publish this book, this massive love letter to vegan cooking.

And I am so grateful for the support y’all have been showing me 🥹 Preorders are so important to the success of any book, so I just want say THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who has already preordered!

💪🏽🧘🏽‍♀️What I’m working on in life

You may have already read about my fitness journey in previous installments of RPL at Home, as I try to get stronger and be as injury-free as possible.

While I am doing SO much better than I was two or three years ago thanks to regular exercise (particularly pilates and functional strength training), I still experience moderate pain in my low back and hip not infrequently, as my floppy joints tend to move out of place, resulting in misalignment (pretty sure “floppy joints” is the proper medical term). 

Luckily my partner, Max, is a problem-solving kind-of-guy, and he did some research about how to keep my joints in check. He was recommended a book called book Back Mechanic by Dr. Stuart McGill, which he recently gifted to me. Some men give their wives the gift of diamonds, others the gift of physical therapy (I much prefer the latter). 

The bad news is, so far, I have only read approximately 1% of the book. The good news is that we both have started doing the “Big 3” core strengthening exercises from the book nearly every day. It’s only been a few weeks, but I have to say, both of us have felt an improvement in our back pain! 

The challenge for me, however, is that the routine takes 20 minutes. Which is, by no means, a lot of time. But it is another 20 minutes on top of any exercise I do in a given day, so I am trying to remind myself that 20 minutes a day, no matter how busy the day, is 1000% worth the feeling of being pain-free (or at least in minimal pain). 

In fact, as I type this, I am also writing myself a reminder to do my Big 3 exercises after I finish this post. That is what I call adulting. 

Doing my back exercises (right after I wrote this post!)

What I’m watching, listening to, and reading

📺 Watching

We recently-ish finished Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the spy TV series loosely inspired by the 2005 movie featuring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

This more modern (and much better) remake features Donald Glover (i.e., the rapper Childish Gambino and star of Atlanta, as well as the character Troy Barnes from Community) and Maya Erskine (the co-star of the hilarious comedy series PEN15, where she plays a fictionalized version of her 13-year old self).  

I love both actors, and as I’ve mentioned in past editions of RPL at Home, I love a spy TV series, so this was an obvious choice for me to watch. 

Like both actors, the show is a little weird and very funny. It’s about thrilling spy stuff but also the ins and outs of marriage. Over the course of season 1, the characters evolve from a couple of strangers awkwardly posing as a married couple to an actual married couple with real married people problems. 

📚 Reading

I’ve read quite a bit since I last checked in, but once I started writing out reviews for all of the books, it turned into its own book (the irony!), so I’ll share just one because it is possibly the best book I’ve ever read. Certainly in my top five books of all time. 

Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott. Longtime readers of the New York Times may remember a series from 2013, where a reporter shared the intimate story of an 11-year-old girl named Dasani: a spirited, intelligent child navigating life in the NYC shelter system with her seven younger siblings whom she raises in large part. 

The reporter turned this piece into a full-fledged book that tracks Dasani’s life for eight years, as well as that of her family, both present and past. 

I’ll leave a link to the original NYT series and a book review so you can explore it for yourself, but it’s honestly the most compelling book I have read in a very long time. It reads like a novel but is a true story, one backed by thousands of pages of official documents.  

As a former New Yorker who worked as a housing attorney for low-income residents, some of the stories describing the system that governs poor people in this country was familiar (e.g., if you want to secure a modest housing subsidy or even food stamps, you must jump through countless hoops, including keeping appointments with various social service agencies…even if that means jeopardizing your job and falling further into poverty). 

But so much in the book was also a stark eyeopener about generational poverty, especially its effects on children. And the story of Dasani herself—her grit, her ambition, her deep love for her family—is truly remarkable. 

12/10 recommend this book, especially for every American. 

🎧 Listening

In the most recent edition of RPL at Home (March 2024), I mentioned I had taken a break from “serious” podcasts and was very much enjoying the hilarious inanity of the wildly popular podcast, My Dad Wrote a P*rno.

I finished that series a while ago, and have since returned to the world of “serious” podcasts. And it doesn’t really get any more serious than Guantánamo Bay. That’s the subject of season 4 of the podcast-defining series, Serial.

It tells the unheard stories of people who lived through the improvised justice system that cropped up after September 11, 2001 at Guantánamo Bay, both prisoners and employees, and much of it is shocking. If you listen to just two of the episodes, I recommend the penultimate episode “Two Ledgers” and the final episode “This is the Weirdness.”

New Recipes and Posts

YouTube videos you might have missed

  • 5 Easy Vegan Breakfasts: I’m often asked to share more breakfast recipes, which is honestly a struggle for me because, most days, I eat savory leftovers or “anything on sourdough” for breakfast. But I finally got my act together, and there are FIVE easy yet flavorful, nourishing breakfast recipes packed into this one video. Enjoy! 

Recipes you might have missed

  • Vegan French Toast: French toast is one of those dishes that is so nostalgic, so I finally came up with a recipe that delivers that classic experience (but vegan). It’s rich and buttery, fluffy on the inside but caramelized on the outside, and such a freakin’ treat for weekend brunch.
  • Dal Palak: I thought that my restaurant-style dal tadka was my favorite dal, but this spinach dal is quickly becoming #1. It’s surprisingly simple but so big on flavor (and you won’t even notice there’s a whole bag of baby spinach tossed in there!). 

🌺🌴Fun Things

In May, we had the privilege of taking a short but sweet vacation to Hawaii, and it could not have been more perfect. 

We did equal parts relaxing—lazing on pool chairs and sipping cocktails while breezing through book after book—and adventuring—hiking, standup paddle boarding, ziplining. And this hybrid was the perfect way to unwind after a very busy period in the business. 

I didn’t work at all during the trip (okay, okay, I worked on the flights…but that doesn’t count IMO), which was a big win for me (and for Max). We were so relaxed the whole time and genuinely felt recharged upon returning home.

Oftentimes, returning home from vacation is tinged with sadness and the unshakeable reality of returning to ordinary life and its endless list of to-dos. But, this vacation was so perfect that I returned with immense gratitude and an excitement to get back to my “ordinary” but fulfilling life.

All of this might sound so obvious, especially to my non-American readers. Duh, people take vacations to do just that—to relax and recharge. But as a small business owner in a space that never sleeps (i.e., content creation), it is easy to forget that you actually need rest. Real rest and real time off.

And I’m so glad we prioritized that this trip.

Okay, that’s it for this month! Drop me a line below and let me know what you’d like to see in the next edition :)

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44 comments on RPL at Home (June 2024)

  1. Kate

    Love your RPLs! As a Hawaii dweller, I’d love to know your culinary wins on island! (I’m sure I probably missed your asking for recs, or posting elsewhere!)
    My husband and I are in the early dev phase of building a vegan ice cream spot on Oahu – we’ll be sure to invite you back when up and running 🌈🍦

  2. Martina Noble

    Thank you for RPL, for putting the time and effort into it. I’m a big fan of your recipes and have several on rotation.

    I look forward to RPL for the book and podcast recommendations.

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