Tuesday, September 3, 2013
At Vida Vegan Con earlier this year, I spoke on the Interdietary Cohabitation panel (along with the lovely Dawn of Vegan Moxie and Joni, author of The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet and a million other amazing cookbooks).
We spent about an hour giving our tips and tricks for living with an omni partner or roommate. And we learned a few things from the audience as well, since many of them were also shacked up with meat eaters.
My main advice: Cook separate meals. And that works well for my omni partner Paul and I since we have different work schedules and social obligations. Plus, we aren't really into the shared meal thing. I like to read when I eat. He likes to watch TV. But that doesn't work for everyone, especially people with kids and more structured lives.
Enter Kitchen Divided: Vegan Dishes for Semi-Vegan Households, the latest book by my friend and cookbook author Ellen Jaffe Jones. I had the pleasure of sharing a booksigning table with Ellen at New Orleans Veggie Fest back in May. She's super-sweet, and she's like a champion runner. She gave me all sorts of running advice. She's also married to a meat eater. So she wrote this book to assist with harmonious interdietary cohabitation.
It's filled with vegan versions of classic comfort foods, the kind of stuff omnivores won't be freaked out by. You won't find any hippie-dippie weird vegan shit like spirulina or kelp noodles (nothing against kelp noodles, but you know, baby steps). Just good old-fashioned food that happens to be vegan and pretty darn healthy.
I wanted to test out a recipe on a real live omni, so I asked Paul to help me pick out a dish that he would be willing to try. He's an especially tough one to please since he has the palette of a toddler (if it's not pasta from a can or some sort of breaded, fried frozen meat, he probably doesn't like it). He's been getting a tad bit more adventurous over the past few months though. He finally settled on Chili Sin Carne.
This is a hearty chili loaded with just about everything and the kitchen sink. Let's see, there's kidney beans, rice, corn, zucchini, carrots, onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, vegan burger crumbles, and my very fave, cashews. I'd never think to add cashews to chili, but it's damn genius. The cashews get all soft, but they retain their nutty flavor.
I was actually shocked that Paul chose this. He's kind of purist when it comes to food. No extra vegetables. Just meat and sauce. But like I said, he's getting just a bit more adventurous. I loved this chili! But I wanted to see if it stood up to Paul's picky palette.
And we have a winner! Paul loved the chili too. When I asked him why he loved it, he said "I don't know. I don't know how to critique food. I just like it because it tastes like chili." And there you go. I see a career as a food reviewer in his future, no?
Ellen's book is loaded with dishes that families can eat together, even if some members are vegan and others are not. There's Tofu Pad Thai, No-Beef Bourguignon, Pasta Primavera, Spinach-Cheese Straws (made with vegan cheese and puff pastry), Potato Pancakes, and Stuffed Peppers.
Her desserts would fool any omni too. There's Strawberry Decadence (made with vegan ice cream, cashews, and strawberries), Chocolate-Mint Parfaits, and the healthier Date and Nut Cake.
If you're looking to add a little harmony to your mixed diet household, Ellen's Kitchen Divided may be just what the relationship counselor ordered.