Dec 3, 2012

omni relatives

This is an unusual post in the sense that I will not be posting anything new.

Due to our constant moving around the country, we are not a big extended-family peoples. Relatives are either too far away geographically or someone is too busy to visit or be visited. Given this, I was a little surprised when my sister-in-law and her husband announced that they would like take a trip up here to spend some time with us, especially since it has been a decade since I've last seen them. 

It was exciting, but a little worrisome; I knew her signification other was a hunter (of animals) and neither of them could throw a stone at vegetarianism, so far on the other side they were. Nevertheless, they brought an open mind and an empty stomach.

My husband and kids were happy to note that there would be great food this long weekend and nary an experiment in sight. In case someone else has some omni family visiting this holiday season, perhaps I can help in the "what will I make them" category. Just for the record, they loved everything and ate like every meal was their last one.
 I'm so proud of them! 

Here is what I cooked for them:

Thursday Dinner: Lima Bean Bake. 

I figured I'd ease them into the veganism and cleanse their palate of meat. It doesn't look or sound like much, but believe me, this is one great meal. The creamy butter beans, the oregano and olive oil, with the bitterness of the broccoli rabe (rapini) and the heartiness of some French bread is a killer in the taste department. It takes 2 hours to bake, but so worth the effort. Ignore the chard and cauliflower on this old photo. I was too busy cooking this past week to take any new pictures.

Friday Lunch: Burger and New England Chowder

I wanted to dive right into the meat substitute world and risk rejection, so I also made the chowder, thinking that if the burger failed, then there would be a back up.
 I worried for nothing. They devoured the burgers and left very little of the chowder to boot!

Friday Dinner: Tater Tot Casserole

Not only did we have our relatives in town, but we also had Kate's friend and his father over for dinner this night. Big on pre-planning, I knew about the additional guests and planned on the Tot Casserole for the kids - this one is a kid-friendly meal and I wanted Kate's friend to be comfortable with the meal. It is also pretty successful with adults.

Saturday Lunch: Benedict and French Toast

Again, because Tofu Benedict is decidedly not poached eggs, I planned on a safe back-up: Isa's Fronch Toast from Vegan With a Vengeance. No pic or recipe for that here (it is in her cookbook), but suffice it to say, it is one of the best vegan French Toast recipes out there. And my Benedict is the best vegan Benedict out there. 
Toot, toot my own horn ;)

Saturday Dinner: Famous "Meat" Loaf

This was good enough for us the first time around, so I thought the relatives would gobble it up. Right, again. I love this meatloaf - it has great flavor and texture, two things you absolutely need a meatloaf to be, let alone one that has no meat in it.

Sunday Lunch: Shawarma

This is the sandwich that I always ordered at Herbivore restaurant in San Francisco. After leaving San Fran., it was imperative that I recreate it. MoFo was the push I needed and this is the sandwich that is a direct result of it, down to the sauteed potatoes, avocado, pickles, sriracha, hummus and tomatoes. Sounds odd as a combination, but the taste is outrageous. They thought so, too. 

   Sunday Dinner: Chicken Fried Steak

Finally, as requested by my hubby, the culmination of their vegan meals was the Chicken Fried Steak. I made the SteaK Seitan for this and grilled the steak before dredging it and frying it. Topped with White Pepper Gravy, served with whipped potatoes and Brussels Sprouts, this was a great finish.

I suppose if I had been the perfect host, a few desserts would have made it to the table, but the extent of sweets were berries and apples. It turns out, they couldn't have added more to their already full bellies by the end of the meals, so no loss there. Good thing, too, since I'm not the dessert queen.

As a recap, I want to point out that I cooked something using all of the meat alternatives at my disposal: beans (limas, chickpeas), seaweed (chowder), mushrooms (chowder), tofu (burger, Benedict, meatloaf), gluten (SteaK, meatloaf, burger) and even commercial meat substitutes (Canadian Bacon, Soy Curls, Gardein), to show the wide range of vegan deliciousness out in the world. Naturally, there was also salad with VA Ranch Dressing, kale, cabbage, avocado, potato, corn, asparagus, broccoli, etc. These people went home full - hopefully in mind and spirit as well.

Happy Holiday Season to ALL.


  1. So great your family visited-- and lucky them that you fed them so well! What a range of dishes!

  2. What an awesome host you are. Lucky relatives!

  3. Thanks Tami and in2insight. My sister-in-law said she doesn't cook quite this fancy (I'm thinking not much at all) at home. I had to dispel the myth and informed her that this was only for them, and I didn't cook this way always either!


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