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This book is written as a companion to the Ojai Valley Vegetarian Cookbook. It is not a cookbook, but a collection of articles from my Ojai Valley Vegetarian blog. These articles paint a portrait of Ojai, California over the years 2009 through 2012.
In this book you will find articles on why it is important to eat fresh and local. You will read about Ojai’s organic farmers, the Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market, Ojai Jalapeno Jelly, Euterpe Farms, Violet’s handmade soaps, Ojai Chocolat, the Ojai Olive Oil Company, the HIP Vegan Café, Knead Baking Company, the O.B.C., Westridge Market, and the Farmer and The Cook organic café.
In it you will also learn about vegetarians in general, why I became a vegetarian, and how difficult it was to be a fledgling vegetarian in the 1970s. For example, when I was asked why I was a vegetarian I would say something like, “It is a healthier lifestyle for me.” The inevitable comeback was, “You’re weird.”
People just didn’t get it then. I’m convinced that part of the misunderstanding was that the majority of people saw vegetarianism as a fad, or saw it as one of those things California hippies did when, in truth, it has been a healthy lifestyle, worldwide, for thousands of years.
In 1975, when I told my father I had become a vegetarian, he asked, “What do you eat?” I told him about my diet and he replied, “You’ll get over it.” My mom was basically the same. With concern in her eyes she said she didn’t understand but added, with love, “When you need a good meal let me know. I’ll fix you a good pot roast dinner. It has vegetables in it.”
When my brother, John, moved to Texas in 1977, he was razzed, good-naturedly, about being from California. He was teased, not so good-naturedly, when his new friends found out his brother was a vegetarian. I visited him shortly thereafter and his friends were gracious enough, but I could tell by their eyes that they just didn’t ‘get’ why anyone would not eat meat or fish.
Look for my new cookbook So You’ve Inherited a Vegetarian…Now What? to be published in late 2013. Knowing that it can be difficult for non-vegetarians to understand vegetarians, I’ve included the article titled Notes on Cooking for Vegetarians. It has tips for understanding vegetarian lifestyles and will hopefully make cooking a more pleasant experience for both you and your vegetarian friends and family.
Until then, may you eat well, eat local, and eat fresh!
See What Readers Have To Say About This Book:
“This collection of Randy Graham’s creativity is a great idea, as his blogs have been wonderfully informative and entertaining….and here they are under one “roof.” It’s one thing to be a great cook…another to be a great recipe developer…another to be a clean and exciting writer…Randy Graham does it all with the engine of his youthful imagination and innate sense of flavorful foods, people, and experience.” – Smitty
“Don’t read this book if you wish to avoid becoming endeared to a healthy lifestyle, small art-town life, a supportive community, or funny vegetarian chefs. Just don’t do it. On the other hand, if you’re anything like myself and you’re into delicious comfort food, sustainability, laughing, history, interesting people, and small town life, you won’t be able to put it down. I’m lucky enough to live in the town of Ojai and until reading Randy’s book, I had merely scratched the surface of loving my little town and all the people in it. Whether you live in Ojai or in Des Moines, whether you’re a carnivore, pescatarian, fruitarian, flexitarian, pollotarian, or demi-vegetarian, you will fall in love with the characters and tasty food mentioned in this book. If you aren’t familiar with the terms I just shared, have no fear–read chapter one. Randy’s Ojai Valley Vegetarian Cookbook is a must have as well, this book’s trusty companion, perfect gift set. Enjoy!” – Brandy
“What a treat to get such real and fun insight into Chef Randy’s vegetarian world. His journey of becoming a vegetarian from the 1970’s until now reveal his passion for cooking and sharing his creations with the world. Really puts a homemade feel to his recipes, not just something printed on paper, but like it is someone in your family who gave it to you out of love. Excellent read.” – JSFY Vegan
“Randy’s recipes are extremely satisfying and comforting…even for an omnivore like myself! The stories in this book are both entertaining and informative. A worthy companion to his cookbook. Most people could learn to “veg-out” a bit more!” – Buddy
“I love that every time I walk through the door at the Graham residence, Randy’s got something in the oven, or on the stove, and can’t wait to have me try it. If he’s made cookies he’s grabbing a bag to send some home to my sweet daughter Morgan. Randy’s latest publication; “Ojai Valley Vegetarian Blog” is a welcomed addition to his previously published cookbooks. For me it’s a welcomed ‘blast from the past’ with his casual “how to” references and his mention of my personal life-saver: “Recipes from a Small Planet”, which I’m sure saved my life as a young teen vegetarian. I also greatly appreciate Randy’s ‘shout-outs’ to our many devoted, talented, organic farmers & artists. Thank you Randy Graham for supporting and celebrating our beautiful Ojai Valley.”- Suze
“I love Randy’s blogs. They are a perfect way to grab a quick bit of inspiration and some yummy ideas! I highly recommend this book for people who enjoy fresh vegetarian ideas they never considered before. Randy is full of unique ideas paired with yummy classics.” – Artistoflife
“Randy’s latest book is a great addition to the other books he has written. I have used many recipes from earlier books and have enjoyed every one of them and now I know why. There is so much to learn about eating vegetarian, and buying organically and locally when possible. Randy includes just the right amount of humor and the stories are special. I particularly like the photo at the beginning of chapter two. Thanks, Randy.” – Linda
“This collection of interesting information, useful cooking tips, and a wealth of recipes, is the perfect expression of the modern vegetarian movement. This is a must read for committed vegetarians and those who cook for them!” – Lol