I'm a bit of a hippy. I served nearly 8 years in the military and did a lot of traveling. In my travels, I tried to sample as much of the local cuisine and culture as I reasonably could. I guess I'm female equivalent of Anthony Bourdain, except I quit smoking last year.

Before my stint in the military, I was a union carpenter in Chicago for about 7 years. I know just about every decent restaurant in the 10 county area, including bits of Indiana and Wisconsin. In the construction off season, I would do some bartending or waitressing at my favorite restaurants just so I could hang out with chefs and learn their insider secrets.

Now, I'm a housewife again. My honey is a vegan and this is the biggest cooking challenge I've ever encountered. How do I cook vegetables and grains without any meat, dairy or honey products?

Between you and me, this vegan stuff is for the birds. Bahh!