Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kitchen Divided


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.

15 comments:

Cadry said...

Ha! This line made me laugh out loud: "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?" Hilarious!

I've never thought about adding cashews to chili either, but that sounds really good. Plus, cashews make almost anything better. Why not chili?

Veg-In-Training said...

Yay to Paul for getting more adventurous! I'm lucky enough to have a hubby who will try pretty much everything I cook, even the "weird" vegan stuff. I love the idea of this book though and may pick it up. Thank you both for sharing!

Eileen said...

Vegetarian chili in general is one of the best possible things I've found to satisfy absolutely everybody, and this one looks great!

OK, so I eat some meat & my person is a vegetarian, & I've found that the main thing is to be nice. (And now I am totally flashing back to the "be nice" scene in Road House...oh late-80s Patrick Swayze, you're so wise!) I'm not a jerk about what he eats and he isn't a jerk about what I eat, and everything is good. Of course, it also helps that I'm more than happy to eat vegetarian dinner pretty much whenever, and he will happily cook me something meaty once in a while. But you know. Be nice!

Barb@ThatWasVegan? said...

That chili really does look (and sound!) delicious, especially the cashews. And I totally think Paul is on his way to being a food reviewer ;)

Babette said...

That's a nice idea for a book! I'm sure it can be handy too for new vegans who are scared by weird hippie ingredients.

I like Paul's comments on the chili =)

vegan.in.brighton said...

I totally get the cooking separate meals thing! My dude's vegan but not the biggest fan of veggies so sometimes I'll make a Quinoa/Kale/Bean stew and he'll fry some mock duck and eat it with white rice, no biggie!

Kylie - FotV said...

Haha, I love kelp noodles :)

My husband was omni for the first year I was vegan, and since I did all the grocery shopping and cooking - he only ate vegan at home. He was cool with it and I think it helped him make the decision to go vegan when he was ready!

Dana said...

Josh and I make separate meals a lot, because we usually don't eat at the same time. When I do cook us a "sit down dinner," he just eats vegan. Sometimes we will cook together, like tacos or pizzas, where he'll make his and I'll make mine. He's a pretty adventurous eater, though. I have been testing recipes for Joni's new cookbook, and so far, Josh has loved ALL of them.

Leah said...

This might also be good for people with older kids who are vegan-food-skeptic or averse to "weird-sounding" foods -- I was a lot less adventurous when I was a teenager, even as a vegetarian with a vegan mom!

coconutandberries said...

haha, you've definitely got a food critic in the making there! It sounds pretty tough living in a divided vegan/omni household to be honest but I'm glad you can make it work. I've cooked for omnis many a time though and veg chili definitely goes down well :)

Sheridan and Drew said...

Cashews in chili are awesome! My boss in Charleston made me a vegetarian white chili right after I went veggie and she put cashews in it! Soooo good! I've been meaning to try to veganize it for forever! Glad Paul is getting more adventurous!

Ellen Jaffe Jones said...

Thank you so much to you, Bianca and especially Paul for being such a good sport. When all else fails, stealth and deception can work in recipe testing. Glad you didn't have to do that, Bianca! Nuts in chili was an attempt to incorporate my honey's fav food of all times...good ole southern boiled peanuts. Yeah, he's a genuine cracker...born and raised in FL. Go back 3 generations and they say you were running from something! ;) Glad you liked it y'all! And thanks again, Bianca, for taking the time to do all of this!!!

Mandee said...

I really enjoyed the talk you three gave, I think it was my fave of VVC! And yay for Paul enjoying this meal, what a great idea for a cookbook!

Jenna said...

What a cool book! My husband went vegan almost a year ago and it has made things soooo much easier- but mostly just when we go out of town- because now all he wants to do is try new vegan restaurants and I'm all for that!! Before he switched we definitely did the separate meal thing and it worked out for us too. And I too like to read whilst eating and David likes to watch TV whilst eating! :)

Becky said...

What a great book review! I was at your talk at Vida vegan Con, and it was one of my favorites! I was actually really surprised during the panel, how many omni partners never tried any of their vegan spouse's food?! I'm glad your better half gave the vegan chili a chance, and even more glad that he liked it ^_^