Tag: vegan

Vegan Potluck

Last week, we went to a potluck and movie showing with the Plant-Based Eating Group at FUS. We first found out about the group at a winter farmers’ market, and we’ve been to brunch (at the Green Owl) with the group before. The group has both vegens and vegetarians (and some allies); the potluck was vegan to ensure that everyone could eat everything.

Aaron and I aren’t vegan, but we cook a lot of vegan food. If you check out our Cookbooks page, you’ll see that several of our favorites (in particular, Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengance) are vegan cookbooks. So, finding a vegan dish appropriate for a potluck was actually pretty easy; much easier, in fact, than finding a Kosher-for-Passover dish for the seders a few weeks ago.

Before I talk about the dish we actually brought, I want to take a brief moment to exclaim just how wonderful this potluck was. Not only was there a wide range of tasty, home-cooked food brought by a fun group of folks, but I was able to eat more than just the dish I brought. I’ve gotten so used to bringing my own food to large events, or filling up on appetizers (yay, cheese and crackers). And in general, that’s fine. My family (and Aaron’s family!) have been pretty accommodating. But, it was incredibly refreshing to be among others with similar food beliefs.

We went with the Camelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts from Veganomicon. This dish is one of our favorites (though, if you ask Aaron, he doesn’t always like eating it for days on end, and it even a half recipe yields many meals). We even brought this to Thanksgiving a few years ago, though I think that many of my relatives were scared by the chestnuts.

Butternut squash chestnut roast (Veganomicon)Although the recipe comes from a vegan cookbook, it’s pretty easy to accidentally make this non-vegan. The topping is breadcrumbs, and most breadcrumbs (at least that we could find) contain dairy. We used gluten-free all-purpose rice crumbs to make this recipe truly vegan.

I should also note that it can sometimes be challenging to find chestnuts. Our beloved HyVee used to carry them consistently, but we’ve had trouble finding them recently. We used to get jarred chestnuts, but these apparently became a “seasonal” item. Then there were vacuum-packed chestnuts, which worked just as well. But those disappeared off the shelves, too. This time, we had to go to a second store–Metcalfe’s–to get chestnuts, and so we stocked up! If you ever go looking for chestnuts, be warned that you will get the asked if you’re planning on “roasting them over an open fire” at least once!

After dinner, we watched VegucatedThe documentary follows three New Yorkers on a six-week vegan experiment. If you want to learn more, there’s a ton of information on the website.

Passover Food, continued

On Friday night, we went to a second seder at our UU church. This still a pretty traditional seder, though it was somewhat shorter than others I’ve experienced. You can view the beginning of the haggadah we used here: http://uuja.org/holidays/lit/haggadah_dave-weissbard.html

When we signed up for the seder, we were provided with a list of kosher-for-Passover recipes; yes, even our UU seder respected this tradition! We chose to make something different than for the beginning of the week; this was both great because we don’t have duplicate leftovers and also unfortunate because maybe we could have just separated the dish initially and served it twice.

In any case, we made tzimmes for our Friday seder. I also learned that I’ve apparently been pronouncing tzimmes incorrectly for a while–I have no recollection of where I learned to say this word. Oops. This dish had sweet potatoes, carrots, oranges, and apples, and turned out quite well.

sweet potato tzimmes

After the seder, Aaron and I stayed to help clean up. FUS has a full kitchen, and a full set of real dishes, and these needed to get cleaned up after serving 56 people! We actually had a great time getting to know the people we were working with.

One of the men asked us what our favorite parts of the seder were. Mine, as it turns out, is the making of the matzah and haroset sandwiches; I realized that I actually really miss my Grandma’s haroset. I had emailed her for the recipe at the beginning of the week, but I never actually made it. So on Saturday, Aaron and I bought ingredients (really, apples) to make my Grandma’s version. This haroset definitely makes me feel at home.


Happy Passover!

Monday night was the first night of Passover, a Jewish celebration of Exodus. The past several years, we’ve had a seder at my grandparents’ during whatever weekend fell during Passover (traditionally, seders are held the first two nights of Passover). This year, we ended up staying home. However, not to miss the celebration, we were invited to a first-night seder with friends.

Now, the challenge with Passover food is that leavened goods (chametz) (and leavening agents) are forbidden; this may also extend to legumes, depending on your beliefs. While Aaron and I do not follow this at home, we obviously observe this tradition when celebrating with others. Passover provides us with the opportunity to be extra creative when selecting a potluck dish to bring. (When we’ve gone to seders with my family, this gets entirely ignored. Last year, I think we took a pasta with roasted butternut squash….)

When we attended this seder two years ago, we made Apple-Nut Kugel from Something Different for Passover by Zell J. Schulman (a kugel is basically a casserole). It was tasty, but a little boring. So, this year, we decided to make something new.

I was pleasantly surprised that googling for “vegetarian passover recipes” was actually successful.  We settled on a this Sweet Potato Kugel; I was hoping that the wider assortment of vegetables (okay, sweet potatoes and apples) would create a more flavorful dish. I liked the result, and it seemed to go over pretty well with our friends. As advertised, it did yield enough to field a small army.

sweet potato kugel

We’re going to a second seder on Friday night at our Unitarian Universalist church, which should be interesting. I’ve been to traditional seders, secular seders, and sarcastic seders (Aaron uses this term to describe my family’s seder experience), but I’ve never been to a UU seder before!