The Smorgasbord of Vegan Disasters

or, How Not to Feed Your Family and Impress Your Friends

In theory, I’m an amazing cook. I used to bake my own bread and make tortillas by hand. (Okay, so that was 20 years ago. In college. But! I produced feasts from scratch). I have a fabulous cookbook collection–some even signed by the authors–and apparently write a vegan food blog. (Yep–this blog you’re reading.) Last weekend, I went to the big vegan bloggers’ conference, Vida Vegan Con, and joked around with my food heroes idols Isa Chandra and Terry Hope Romero. I met my bloggy friend at Luminous Vegans (happy squeal!). Dreena Burton and I showed each other pics of our kids on our phones! It was my brush with fame.

My sad little brush with fame.

Because…sometimes my cooking isn’t so great in practice.

A case in point… this is the delightful disastrous family meal we procured tonight. It’s not entirely my fault. We were out of the chickpeas necessary to make chickpea cutlets. My hubby had used them to make hummus last Sunday and didn’t realize I needed them to make the cutlets, which he’d requested, for one of the few nights we had all our kids together. At dinner time. In the same house. It was supposed to be a special meal.

Everybody loves the cutlets. Sad face.

Instead, we had to implement Plan B.

There was no Plan B.

There was just… this:

1. Field Roast Sausages–extra dry: The label CLEARLY says not to overcook them. Did I obey? No. I also made exactly one and a half veggie dogs for the two year old. He has really loved them lately, and even requests them for breakfast. Tonight, they ended up on the floor.

2. Gluten-free Pasta 3.0: this is the third night in a row our dinner has featured this rotini pasta, which is a blend of rice, quinoa, and amaranth or something. It’s from Costco. Don’t buy it. It has gotten successively stiffer each evening. Drenching it with the last of the Vegenaise and calling it ‘pasta salad’ fooled nobody. Tomorrow, I will eat version 3.1.

3. Tempeh… just… tempeh: Only three of us like tempeh. When I made the non-likers try a bite, one of them screamed and tried to shove it back at me. The other silently ate it, then drank lots of water. The 14-year old ate some, but he’s 14. He eats everything.

4. Fried rice, salted three ways: We had left-over rice pilaf, which had been salted with lemon-garlic salt and veggie broth. I’d served it the night before with doomed tofu. What is doomed tofu? It’s the kind that tastes off when you sample it right out of the package but cook anyway because it cost $3 and hope the seasoning will disguise the off taste. It didn’t. Why did I store it with last night’s broccoli and rice all in the same dish? I AM FRUGAL. And optimistic. When my hubby saw it tonight, he said, “Oh, that tastes bad. I should’ve told you not to save it.” This from the man who eats avocado that has moldy parts, and milky coffee that has been left out all day.

Back to the rice. I added some soy sauce and peas, fried it in canola oil, and called it “fried rice.” Some of it got eaten. I think there’s more. I better be hungry tomorrow, because there is also the following to contend with:

5. Drunken Spinach: Hubby makes an amazing Italian-style spinach with sauteed onions, tomatoes, and nutmeg. Unfortunately, the tomato product we had on hand was ‘strained.’ Strained does not mean chunks. Therefore, the spinach was sodden. Plastered. Shit-faced. Hammered.

But, you know, we needed a sauce for the dry sausage, tempeh, and…

6. Mashed Parched Potatoes: How the heck did these mashed potatoes get so dry? I blame it on the new “perfect masher” we just used for the first time. Mashed potatoes should’t be so… arid.

Have you choked that all down yet?

As we told the kids, “It’s like a buffet!” (Have some water.)

We made them hot chocolate to make up for it.

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16 thoughts on “The Smorgasbord of Vegan Disasters

  1. Very funny. I hate it when one disaster leads to another and there’s nothing you can do about it and you’re stuck with it! amaranth in pasta sounds really odd. It’s reasons like that I can’t do vegan!!

    1. Vegan is good. It’s gluten-free that’s not (luckily we’re not GF, the pasta just happened to be). Thanks for reading, and I’m so glad you found it funny. It was meant to be 😉

  2. I wish I liked things like quinoa and tempeh and tofu, but I just don’t. So for vegan options I usually go with the beans, lentils, etc. I made that same mistake with strained tomatoes, thinking they were the same as crushed. Nope. Not even close.

  3. Suddenly burning a few slices of toast when it’s a Thursday and I’m on supper duty for 13 Sisters (inc me; we are 14 sisters but one is on a specific diet and so makes her own supper) plus any guests we may have staying doesn’t seem that bad after all!

    1. Hahahahaha!

      Last night’s dinner was much better. We stuck with pasta, a cucumber-tomato-basil salad, and fresh blueberries and strawberries. Kid pleasing and easy.

      1. Not my biological sisters! I’m a novice in a (female) religious community. There are 39 of us in total, but 20 of those are out in Branch Houses in the UK, Ghana and Swaziland, and 5 are in the Infirmary wing where we have a dedicated care team for them, leaving the 14 here at the Priory for whom I have to try not to burn the toast on a Thursday evening!

  4. Kylie, do you guys use a CSA? It sounds like some fresh produce delivered to your home would be a real convenience!! Organics To You delivers and you can “shop” online every week or at intervals of your liking. They even throw in chocolate and stuff sometimes…

  5. PB & J sandwiches and macaroni and cheese are ALWAYS the backup plan. I’m still working on whole foods, homecooking vegetarianism and wow, if you don’t master your herbs and spices, you can come out with some of the blandest, pastiest and least appetizing gobbly-gook. I always warn my family: Don’t be polite, because if you say something is okay, I’ll be making it again!

  6. This sounds a lot like the dinner attempt I made the other night for T. and I. Frozen pierogi, which are usually a hit, but these ones dried out in the oven so they were brittle. They crumbled when I bit into them. T. wouldn’t eat them. Frozen broccoli which fared OK, but was cold by the time I served it. Thankfully the apple gouda sausage which I was convinced T wouldn’t eat, she did like. It felt like I tried to make a decent meal and it failed.

    1. It happens!

      Later, R. asked me, “Mom, do we still get to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if we don’t like dinner?” I told her yes. Then she asked, “What happens if you don’t like what you make?” And I said, “Well, I’ll eat it anyway, if it won’t kill me. Not everything has to be delicious. It’s okay for things to just be okay.”

  7. I’m working my toward VB6. It’s just that I eat dinner late. I’ve tried vegan cutlets for my last meal but they don’t get it. Vegan dogs and sausages send me to the neighborhood peat packer who smoke hot dogs every day. The organic garden next door, yes I’m lucky. has begun to sell the greenhouse veggies they grew early in the year. The only other thing on the queue is baby greens because the weather here in CT is kinda wavy. So I’m salading my way through the morning hours and really, really trying to stick with chicken and turkey even though a used steak (I’ll explain someday) whispers in my ear.

    1. A used steak???

      VB 6 is great! I’m happy with beans and tofu for my protein, but we do the fake meats for the kids.

      I don’t think they exactly appreciate it 😉

      1. In some supermarkets they have a section for meats that have come real close to their expiration date. They stick a $1 or$2 off coupon on it and hope it sells. I open the package, remove the plastic and take out the sanitary napkin they stick under the meat. I repack it in a Ziploc bag and keep it in the coldest part of the refrigerator. The meat ages some and the flavors intensify. Ya got to watch it though. It can go south in a heartbeat. I get them on Wednesday and grill them on Sunday night.

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