Sunday, March 20, 2011

St. Paddy's Day Cave & Cooking for Non-Vegans

I was feeling super inspired last weekend to get back to Kind cooking after a hectic school play production week during which I didn't cook at all, but still managed to eat *mostly* vegan (a pox on you Millenium Falcon!).

I ended off that weekend on a good note...On Sunday 7.0 I finally made the Sicilian Collard Greens (p. 176) I had been craving (craving veggies...freaky, I know), and they were perfect with a simple side of rice. I also added some faux chicken cordon bleu a la Gardein from the Nasty Food #4 category (processed), but it was the closest thing to a home cooked meal I had all of Week the Seventh, so I was pretty happy.

I don't know how Gardein does it...this stuff pretty much tastes like chicken and has a very similar texture to chicken. Of course it's better to prepare *real* foods, but I'm happy to put Gardein in the "once in a while" category...definitely a worthy indulgence.

Rob the Husband was at a conference in Vegas for most of Week the Eighth, so my motivation to engage in some Kind cooking waned pretty quickly. It's more interesting trying out new recipes with him around to critique them, therefore it became apparent very early in the week that there wasn't going to be much cooking going on...unless you consider making sandwiches cooking. My 9 year old nieces would totally consider making sandwiches cooking, so yah, on second thought, I totally cooked.

Monday 8.0: Sandwiches! Vegan sandwiches kick ass. Once again there was some indulgence in the Nasty Food #4 category here with the processed Yves veggie deli "meats", but oh well...whole wheat Cobbs bread, Nayonnaise, vegan cheddar, avocado, cucumber, and lettuce = thumbs up.

Tuesday 8.0: Sushi! No cooking this night either, unless you consider ordering takeout cooking. My wealthy socialite friends (if I had any) would totally consider ordering takeout cooking (especially if they phoned in the order themselves instead of getting Jeeves to do's a well-known fact that all wealthy socialites have butlers named Jeeves), so yah, once again, I totally cooked...yam tempura roll, avocado roll, edamame beans, and my favourite Yoko green salad = thumbs up again.

Wednesday 8.0: Sandwiches! Again. Don't judge...I had bread to use up, ok?

And that brings us to Thursday 8.0.

St. Patrick's Day.

Cheerleading Bake Sale.

I was screwed.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Official Cave #3.

The thing is, I knew I was going to cave. Unlike the Valentine's bake sale, I didn't even try to resist. I even brought Tupperware to facilitate the cave. I used the excuse that family, including my two nieces, were coming to dinner, and they would totally want cupcakes. But I had already made three Kind Diet desserts for dinner that night, so...yahhh...

I ended up eating two non-vegan cupcakes, plus the non-vegan chocolate marshmallow thing, and I brought the rest home to share.

Worth it. And my $22 went towards the Cheerleading Anaheim trip, so it was for a good cause. I'll just keep telling myself that.

Rob's brother and his family were actually in town to meet their new puppy and were indeed coming to dinner that night along with Rob's cousin and her kids (no, it wasn't all just a lie so I could justify buying cheerleading cupcakes), and I was excited to cook my first vegan meal for people other than Rob and my mom. But first we went to meet the newest member of the family...

Meet Marley :) My new furry niece (Abigail is the one without the fur). They get to bring her home on Monday :) Here's another sideways happy face just because puppies are so cute :)

Anyhoo, back to dinner.

For dinner that night I didn't try anything new...I wanted to go with recipes with which I had already experimented and could officially claim as Great Success in my Borat voice. The menu:
-Warm Potato, Soybean, and Cucumber Salad (p. 178)
-Caesar Salad (p. 175)
-Rustic Pasta (p. 147)
-Barley Casserole (p. 150)
-Cornbread (p. 163)
-Oatmeal batch with vegan chocolate chips and one with dates, almonds & raisins (p. 186)
-Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (p. 183)
-Lemon-Poppy Seed Poundcake (p. 188)

A bit overboard, I know. I was making up for my lack of cooking earlier in the week, plus I wanted to show the non-vegan world that Vegan does not equal Deprivation. Plus I'm on a secret mission to convert the world to a kinder life. Plus I'm Polish and we tend to overdo it when it comes to food.

Because Rob the Husband wasn't coming home until late that night, and we hadn't had a Happy Tongue rating all week, I explained the rating system to my two gorgeous nieces and asked them to rate each of the dishes on the Happy Tongue scale.

They were pleased to oblige.

Abigail & Brittany's ratings:

-Warm Potato Salad-    Abigail - 3 Happy Tongues / Brittany - 3 Happy Tongues
-Caesar Salad-                  Abigail - 5 Happy Tongues / Brittany - 5 Happy Tongues
-Rustic Pasta-                   Abigail - 4 Happy Tongues / Brittany - 4.5 Happy Tongues
-Barley Casserole-         Abigail - 5 Happy Tongues / Brittany - 2.5 Happy Tongues
-Cornbread-                     Abigail - 5 Happy Tongues / Brittany - 5.5 Happy Tongues (wow...5.5!)
-Oatmeal Cookies-        Abigail - 5 Happy Tongues / Brittany - 3 Happy Tongues
-Lemon-Poppyseed-    Abigail - 4 Happy Tongues / Brittany - 4 Happy Tongues

Unfortunately, I took the Peanut Butter Cups out of the fridge too early and left them out, so they were too soft to serve. Abigail didn't get to rate them, but Brittany was over yesterday and was kind enough to rate them for me.

Peanut Butter Cup-          Brittany - 4 Happy Tongues

So overall, the best reviews of the night (from both the children and adults) went to the Caesar Salad and the Cornbread. And the three dishes I still remain the most excited over two months into The Kind Diet are those two plus the PB Cups. 

Here's what really excites me though. Kids are picky. I've eaten dinner with both of these blonde monkeys many times, and had them sleep over, and believe me, they are NOT shy about telling me when they don't like something. But they were willing to try absolutely EVERYTHING on the table and give me their honest opinions, and the reviews were good! Just like my experiences with the Kind Diet recipes, there are some dishes the girls were more enthused about than others, but there was nothing that they hated or thought was gross or wouldn't finish eating. And they LOVED the Caesar Salad and Cornbread, which I knew would definitely become staples in my house the first time I made them.

First vegan cooking experience for non-vegans = Great Success indeed.

I was feeling pretty good the morning of Friday 8.0. Thursday's dinner had gone well, Rob had come home, I had some killer leftovers for lunch, and it was the last day of school before Spring Break. I knew that yesterday was Thursday, today it is Friday, tomorrow is Saturday, and Sunday comes afterwards. I thought my biggest dilemma that day was going to be deciding Which seat can I take? when my underage friends picked me up on the way to school that morning in their convertible (if you are furrowing your eyebrows in confusion right now, consider yourself blessed...if you're not, I hope your Friday was fun fun fun fun). Then I arrived in the staff room to discover these:

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?? 

But I didn't cave. One cave that week was enough, as my buddy Motivation was kind enough to remind me. And he had to remind me of that again on Saturday 8.0 as we hosted a baptism reception for my goddaughter at our house with LOTS of amazing non-vegan polish food. We didn't prepare any of it...just got to look at it, and smell it, and avoid it. I tried a spinach perogi, but that was it. 

Overall it was an eventful eighth week on this vegan journey...ridin' solo for a while, cooking for non-vegans, and officially caving for the third time at the mercy of the St. Paddy's Day cheerleading bake sale. I did forget to put those cupcakes out at dinner on Thursday night, so I sent them to work with Rob the next morning, where he proceeded to inform everyone that they were vegan cupcakes...oops. Rob further burst my bubble when he informed me that the Whole Foods 365 brand marinara sauce I had been using for the Rustic Pasta had parmesan in it. Oops again.

But whatever. I'm trying, I'm learning, and I'm still loving this way of life. I love it even more now that Rob bought me these super awesome awesome t-shirts in Vegas...

Very nice :)

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