Night Owl Shenanigans: Nocturne #1

It’s a little past 1 A.M. where I am and I’ve just put a big honkin’ leg of lamb in the crockpot my brother shares with me. It’ll take about eight and a half hours to cook. If I wake up around 10, that tasty mix of shit will be done and delicious.

It took me a long time to get here. I don’t like cooking. I don’t hate it, either, but I lean toward more of a neutral feeling that’s peppered with complaints and swear words. Every time I set out to cook a substantial meal, I find myself pacing back and forth in our kitchen, muttering and swearing to myself as I follow my compulsion to keep the counters clean and the dishwasher filled.

My brother and I live together, and we tend to think in similar fashions, but our respective approaches to feeding ourselves diverge. Sometimes wildly, it seems.

I’ve been saying, off and on for the past two years, that I’m attempting to go vegan. I always stress the “attempting” part because I can never go fully vegan. My striving to eat more vegan meals began with my ex-girlfriend (she’s a vegan) and has continued to the present day. I don’t do it out of some weird desire to stay connected to her – I do it because I find that meat and dairy substitutes are delicious.

There are these vegan hot dog/sausage thingies that make my taste buds do a happy dance, whether I heat them up or eat them cold. The Tofurky brand deli slices are fucking amazing. Vegennaise? Got it. I spread it on my sandwiches with mustard. Soy creamer? It goes in my coffee every day. I’ve done a thorough job of replacing most of the animal products I used to eat with tasty substitutes.

And yet, I can’t go full vegan, for, well, one or two reasons, mostly. My brother cooks way more often than I do, and he has no desire to go vegan. Therefore, he makes heaping helpings of spaghetti with ground beef in the sauce, and pork chops stuffed with cheese, and steaks to pair with succulent potatoes. He’s kind enough to share his concoctions with me, so I end up eating his hearty generosity and all the animals that died to supply it.

My parents also find it difficult to part ways with meat and other animal products, so whenever I go to their place for dinner, I end up eating some kind of animal with stuff that’s made from animals or the things that animals produce.

Shit, I’m a huge liar. The main reason I won’t go vegan is because I love chocolate. I know there’s vegan chocolate, just let me have my stupid moment of willful ignorance. Okay, moment’s over.

I know I can go vegan, if I try. I have a strangely streamlined meal routine. Every morning I make oatmeal with steel cut oats, dried cranberries, and a little brown sugar. I also drink a cup of coffee with my soy creamer. For lunch, I typically eat a sandwich made with Tofurky slices, vegan (read: dairyless) cheese, Vegennaise, and mustard, all on this crazily expensive marble rye bread. (Working at a grocery store does provide the perk of a sweet discount on groceries.)

The only meal that’s difficult is dinner, and that’s because it’s usually provided by someone who isn’t me. And while I’m thankful for my brother’s willingness to share, I may have to change things up soon. I can get by eating those delicious vegan hot dogs for dinner. They’re really good. I don’t think I’ll get tired of them anytime soon.

And oh, yeah, the damn chocolate. And the start of this whole post, the leg of lamb that’s currently cooking in our crockpot. My brother likes to cook really sumptuous stuff every now and then, and for the past two weeks he’s been on a lamb kick. He bought the ingredients for a tasty leg of lamb dish, like, two weeks ago, but he and I were so busy that neither of us got around to cooking it. The poor man had to throw out that expensive fucking lamb. It was wasteful, and I feel bad that we just threw away food like that.

So I get home from work a few nights ago and he says “I bought more lamb so I can actually cook that stuff.” Ok, great, I think to myself. I’ll partake of this delicious generosity. Today, however, I pulled my lazy ass out of bed at a quarter to 11 to find that my brother has the day off. This is Friday, mind you. That’s a badass early weekend.

Then I remember: the annual Pyramid Lake shindig thrown for employees of the Mt. Rose ski resort is happening this weekend. My brother has Friday off so he can head to Pyramid and chill out with his Mt. Rose homies. I wish him a good time before I head off to watch a movie with friends, and he says “You may have to cook that stuff.”

Oh shit. The lamb. He spent a small lower-middle-class fortune to replenish his ingredients for that dish. Not wishing to spoil his generosity or his bank account, I give him the affirmative: I’ll cook the stuff while he’s gone.

So I get home around 3:30 in the afternoon, and I’m not in the mood to cook. I end up cleaning a bit before I veg out with Animal Crossing, then I lie in bed while the details for a short story coalesce in my brain. I resist the urge to write. I finally set myself at my desk and painstakingly type out a dope piece of flash fiction. (I think it’s dope, but I haven’t given it time to cool yet. I’ll read it later, with more of a critical mind, and see how I did.)

Anyway, that’s a sidetrack. The point is, I spent hours avoiding the leg of lamb plopped in the fridge, and it wasn’t until 7:30 or so that I read the recipe. The damn thing cooks for almost nine hours? Fuck. At this rate, it’ll cook until 5 in the morning and I’ll be sleeping while it sits in the crockpot. Not a terrible idea, I know that crockpots are made for this sort of maneuver, but I can’t bring myself to cook it.

Yeah, I’m something of a pro-procrastinator. A real last-minute professional. So I start prepping everything around midnight, after enjoying the final episodes of a YouTube Let’s Play I’ve been digging. After about an hour of pacing through the kitchen, swearing and complaining about the beautiful art and process of cooking, I’ve done it – the lamb and all the ingredients are in the crockpot.

It looks really fucking good. I think I did a decent job. When I wake up tomorrow, it’ll be ready, and I’ll be glad I went through the ordeal of pacing and swearing and cutting up onions.

I’m not a vegan, but I have cut back on the amount of meat I consume, and I’m proud of this. Sometimes small steps are better and more productive than giant leaps.

Here’s to the future, and all the tasty meals I’ll complain about until I dig into them.