Oh, Christmas Tree...

The second round of holidays were a mite more challenging than Thanksgiving (kudos to Jenn for making my visit so great!). The overwhelming gist of it all was it felt like I was cooking for about 2 weeks. I started by making food for a friend's party, then cooked for our own party...then made a dish for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and had the family over the day after Christmas for dinner. It's no wonder Paul and I have been eating out so much in the new year!

Christmas eve was a bit of a challenge-- there would be nothing I could eat at Paul's aunt and uncle's place, so I made a couple appetizers and a polenta/chickpea casserole that was...well, marginal-- I'm not sure what happened there. It is interesting how traditions can get in the way of ethical eating. I love that Paul's family has traditions-- something we don't have many of in my family. This evening really highlighted the important of tradition, but it also made me wonder if it is possible to adjust traditions to fit a new normal...with that in mind, I veganized my family's french toast tradition the next morning :)

Christmas day was great because my mother-in-law made awesome vegan side dishes, so I was completely taken care of. How great is that? I contributed a caesar salad to the affair, using a recipe from the Vegan Table for that one. I also made these croutons suggested in the book, and they were great-- cubed bread, tossed with paprika, oregano and marjoram. Toast them in the oven, and toss away! The vegan caesar is pretty easy. It uses lemon juice for tartness, cashews for creaminess and dijon for a little zip. I think there may have been capers in there as well to replace the brininess of anchovies. Nancy made this very good bean/carrot side dish. It was creamy, with a little dill and carrot to accent the white beans. So good-- I took all the leftovers home. I think the family was surprised that vegan mashed potatoes could be so tasty too-- they were great!

For the dinner I cooked, I tried a new recipe for Noodle Kugel from Vegan Table (this is a great book for entertaining, by the way). It was a sweet kugel, so there was a smidge of sugar, sweetened almond milk, crumbled tofu, Earth Balance, and I added my signature crispy Sage, cinnamon and brown sugar mix in. It was so good! My dad loved it, and I made it again for a family party in January. I know-- more parties...the list continues...

I felt torn about the meal I made, because I let my dad bring a ham for everyone else to eat along with my sides. It was fine that way, but it smelled like dead pig in my house for 2 days. Oddly, when you stop eating meat, the smell of cooking animals is really no longer appealing. It turned my stomach a bit, but we were hosting for the first time, so I thought I should offer a meat option. In retrospect, I should have taken it as an opportunity to demonstrate that you *really* don't need meat to make a complete meal.

Beyond the kugel, I also prepared sweet potato fries (for the wee ones-- my (step) sister Kelly's kids), steamed broccoli with sauce and I served the seeded rolls from Trader Joe's again. All that meal needed was a hearty stew or bean dish, and we could have done without Porky. Sad. :(

Anyhoo, on to the next, right? An appetizer I played with this season is a moroccan roasted vegetable blend. It included fennel, zucchini, red pepper and a few others, and it was seasoned with curry, cinnamon and...maybe I threw in a bit of ras-al-hanout. The first two times I served them chopped small in little filo cups; the third time, I wrapped them in filo dough triangles and pan fried them. These were served with a maple balsamic glaze from the Eat, Drink and be Vegan book. Everyone loved these, actually, so maybe I'll post more details on the recipe another time.

Even though these crammed-full couple weeks were busy and full of cooking, the holidays were really great this year. We spent so much time with family-- in a good way-- that it really felt like "the holidays" for me. That hasn't been the case in awhile because I'm usually traveling all over the place around this time. There really is nothing like slowing down (speeding up?) and taking time to be with the people you care for. Good fun.


Holiday Wine Party Menu, Rehash

The good news is I erred on the side of having plentiful food for the party, and all were served and happy. In fact, we really didn't have that much left over!

On December 18th we had about 30 or so people swing by our our house for a little carousing. I made just about everything on my list, and most things were enjoyed. The Bombay bites were a bit of a disaster-- they were impossible to keep together, and while they were supposed to be a bit like hushpuppies, they ended up more like fried balls of ... chickpeas. Of course, that's not entirely bad-- they did get eaten up rather quickly. In any case, that recipe needs improvement! The curried tomato sauce they were served with was very good.

The bruschetta was snatched up, as were the latkes and jalapeno poppers. The tofu skewers didn't go as quickly as they might have, but they made a great snack for me after I was finished in the kitchen. I actually forgot to make the snausage ones (with tomato, basil and italian Tofurkey sausage. I made them the following week for lunch-- delish!

I altered these for the party to be sliced in half, open-face poppers
A friend of mine made these excellent gingersnap cookies with lemon icing-- they weren't vegan, so I couldn't have one-- but everyone was raving. Same for my friend Susan's 7-layer dip. People just cant get enough of that stuff!

I would say that my first attempt at a nearly entirely vegan party was a success. Love it!

In other news, my collection of vegan cookbooks is approaching absurd. It's super fun to have variety, but as I look at the two skinny shelves they're occupying just outside the kitchen, I feel slightly gluttonous. Alas-- a small price to pay for delicious! The popper recipe is from the 30-Minute Vegan cookbook, and it uses Daiya, vegan cream cheese, cumin, chili powder, and this yummy tahini/soy mixture that you coat everything in to get the breadcrumbs to stick.  The other recipes were mostly my own...though I did get one for the Latkes from Vegan Table.


Holiday Wine Party Menu, Take 1

So the big party is this weekend. I worked on the menu this morning, and so far, here's what I've got...

  • Potato Latkes with applesauce and vegan sour cream
  • Bruschetta, 3 varieties: Whitebean/fig/pistachio/honey; tomato/balsamic/garlic/basil; Cream cheese/Strawberry/Balsamic/Black Pepper
  • Crispy Tofu, Pineapple and Tomato spears
  • Bombay Bites (Chickpea fritters) with Spiced Tomato Sauce
  • Jalapeno Poppers
  • Hummous, cheese and cracker platter
  • Rosemary Roasted Cashews

For sweets:

  • Truffles
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter cups
  • Christmas Wreaths (if I can find vegan marshmallows, that is...)
It's a big menu, but honestly, I think there will be a lot of people. Plus, we don't need people drink, drink drinking all night without sustenance. God knows, that never ends well...wish me luck. 


Nutty, gingered birthdays are best

My dear friend Fansh dropped by for her birthday this year, and to honor the occasion in true vegan fashion, I made her two batches of cupcakes. It may seem strange to make two batches of twelve cupcakes for one person, however, for this dear friend, nothing less would suffice.

I chose gingerbread cupcakes with lemony butter cream and chocolate hazelnut mousse filled hazelnut cupcakes with a chocolate ganache and roasted hazelnuts on top. They were delicious and appropriately contrasted, I thought.

The gingerbread cupcakes were really dark, thanks to real molasses and brown sugar, and the fluffy lemon butter cream frosting was *seriously* to die for. Amazing. A bowl of gingersnap cookies with the leftover frosting would have been divine, but...well, there were so many cupcakes that this idea just seemed somewhat overindulgent.

The mousse filling for the hazelnut cupcakes was also something I'd definitely make again-- maybe on its own. It was a firm silken tofu base with melted vegan chips, hazlenut liqueur and maybe a little of something else. Both recipes, in any case, were from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, my go-to guide for all things in small cups. 

Happy birthday to Fansh, and many thanks for your cute snapshots of the deliciousness...


Stuffing Myself

First thanksgiving as a vegan, check.

Visiting North Carolina where my sister and mom live for the holiday, I knew that if I was going to survive my first big vegan holiday, I was going to have to bring my game. And I did. Aside from the delicious red pepper hummous and gingery delicious sweet potatoes my sis whipped up for me, I brought the veg celebration to the table. It was great! Here was my portion of the menu:

  • Veganized stuffing (original recipe by Dave Lieberman)
  • Glazed Green Beans (from the Vegan Table)
  • Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts (from Vegan with a Vengeance)
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe)
  • Shepherd's Pie (from Sept/Nov VegNews Magazine)

I don't even know where my sister's recipe came from, but it was so good-- gingered, sweet sweet potatoes topped with a brown sugar nutty loveliness. In any case, the stuffing, according to just about everyone, was the star.

To master this lovely creation, I toasted a big bakery boule of multigrain bread, tossed it in a lovely heated "sauce" of margarine, thyme, sage, baby bella mushrooms, dried cherries and veggie broth.  I think I also threw in some toasted chopped walnuts for added crunch, but not too many. Bake it and love it, baby-- this stuffing is amazing. Of course, it's probably the delicious bread that helps it be this way, but the dried cherries and walnuts also add something pretty special. I'll make it again for Christmas, methinks...

Altogether, I think it was a success. There was a twinge of sadness when my sister made a pumpkin cream pie that I couldn't even taste test, but the evening before thanksgiving, as I watched my sister, father and brother-in-law wrestle with a very large dead bird, I knew that I wasn't going to miss the "real deal" at all. There are days when I think I might someday go back to eating some things like butter, eggs and cheese if I could find them produced responsibly...but Thanksgiving day was not one of those days. And most days are not one of those days, now.

The next project on deck is our holiday party that comes in December. I'm looking forward to planning that menu. Mostly vegan, with a platter of cheese for those who can't imagine a party without it... Wish me luck!


Shepherd's Pie, Chocolate Spice and Chilean Red

Tonight was a night of comfort food. I learned last night that Paul had never had shepherd's pie before. Can you imagine? I can't-- I still remember helping my mom whip the potatoes, having the back of my hand smacked when I snuck a few too many bites of them, and smelling that delicious, savory steam emanating from the freshly scooped serving on my green, ceramic plate (loved the green and red, mom did).

In my youth, shepherd's pie was a staple, usually topped with cheddar and bottomed in delicious ground beef gravy, but it is also something I just LOVED ordering at the pub when I was in England for a summer. There's nothing like a crisp cider and this yummy dish at about 3 in the afternoon-- overcast sky, a good book, etc. You can feel the picture I'm painting.

You can imagine, then, my excitement to see a veganized version in the most recent issue of VegNews Magazine. Knowing that my poor, poor husband had never experienced the joy of this dish, I whipped it up the first chance I got.

This recipe replaced the ground beef with French green lentils, and the gravy was thickened with barley flour. The base was olive oil, mirepoix with garlic,  mushrooms, celery seed, marjoram, paprika, thyme and some veggie broth. It also called for a little vegan worcestershire sauce, tamari and fresh italian parsley. While traditional shepherd's pie would add peas to the mix, I replaced those nasty little buggers with corn. This made for a very satisfying gravy base, and the lentils were just the right texture. This type of lentil keeps its shape pretty well, so no mushiness here-- just little pillows of peppery goodness.

The mashers for the top are pretty basic-- vegan, non-hydrogenated margarine and soy milk with yukon golds. The recipe doesn't ask for cheese on top, something my mom always added. Traditional shepherds' pie doesn't have cheese that I know of (it was, after all, a peasant's dish for the most part), but I imagine it could be good between the lentils and potatoes or on top if you wanted additional richness or texture.

This dish is obviously hearty enough to be served alone, but I always feel that a "meat" and potatoes dish can go over a bit like sweatpants at the salon when it's not served with a salad. I threw together some fresh spinach, roasted sunflower seeds and dried cranberries with an apple balsamic vinaigrette, and warmed up a seeded roll from Trader Joe's (these are delicious-- you have to try them). We topped the meal off with a recently acquired bottle of Chilean red from a shop in Birmingham, Talulah Too. A great deal for a delicious wine.

The pie recipe, written by Allison Rivers Samson, was a delicious adaptation of a family classic. I'll totally make it for family at Thanksgiving (because it's hearty enough to make turkey-eaters jealous), and I know my sister, equally Anglophiled, will love it.

As a post script to our dinner, I threw together some chocolate chunk spice cookies, a recipe from Eat, Drink and be Vegan. These turned out great-- like all her cookies seem to. A little sugar, a bunch of spice, some chocolate, chocolate chunks, maple syrup and a little oil to bind it together- primo!


Weekending Up North: Thai Sundays

Sunday, Halloween, was an adventure at the cottage. We thought we'd get away this time around and escape the usual celebrations that involve clogged pores (makeup) and too much alcohol and have a peaceful respite at the cottage. Sure-- what could go wrong there?

The good news is that most things didn't go wrong. I found myself laying on the sofa much of the day, catching up on some work and watching lots of television (including one of my favorites, Tootsie). By the time dinner rolled around, I was ready to stretch my legs, move away from the well-tended fire Paul had put together for us, and cook up something warming and cozy to go with our mood.

Peanut sauce was on the docket, served over brown rice with chopped tomatoes and green onions. I'd have used tofu, but I forgot it at home, so I replaced it with some marinated, sliced portabella mushrooms sauteed garlic and olive oil. An improvement, really. I start cooking the rice, get a few things going on the stove, and go out to chill in the living room for a brief break.

Paul was sitting near me-- here is a transcript of our conversation:

What the bat looked like swooping around upstairs...
Paul: "Is that--."

Suz: "What? Is What?"

Paul: "Is that-- a bat?"

Suz: "NO. Shut up."

Paul: "Is it...? Yes. That is definitely a bat"

Suz: "Shut up.  No. There is not a bat."

Paul: "There's a bat."

Suz: "Nooooooo. Oh my gosh. What are we going to do? I don't know what to do. Paul, I don't know what to do."

During this meeting of the genius minds, a small, winged creature soared around in swooping circles in the loft of the cottage, seemingly looking for either a way out or someone's blood to suck.

As I freaked out and put the dog in one of the bedrooms so he wouldn't *get rabies* (because that is obviously what would happen if he was left out...), Paul put on a parka and a baseball cap, covered his hands with windsurfing gloves, and grabbed a broom from the garage (longer reach than a tennis racket).  I shut off all the burners for dinner (except the rice-- gotta love the slow cooking food!), hoping that we would get back to it before the bat breath in the house polluted my delicious meal.

What the bat was probably *actually* like..
Paul crawled upstairs and fought with the now invisible bat, and to no avail. We shooed the bat, we opened one of the skylight windows, we opened the front door and turned off the lights, we rattled forks against empty plastic containers. We were a sight. We were hilarious.

The bat, now safely nestled between one of the log rafters and the center beam of the house, wouldn't budge. He wanted to hole up for a little nap, and even soapy water wasn't going to get him out. Eventually, hunger, impending office hours and my own dwindling fright led us to leave the bat to his own devices, taking turns watching for him to begin circling again.

I finished dinner-- it was a delicious feast, even better than the first time I made it, and we were satiated and comforted by its warmth in our bellies.

We slept on the first floor and left the cottage before the bat could resurface the next day. Did we get away? Yes. Did we celebrate Halloween? Not really, but we certainly got a taste of the season that no party in metro Detroit could have provided.


Weekending Up North: Italian Saturdays

Paul and I headed north for the weekend, and rather than take our usual Saturday night meal at Lulu's, we decided to stay in Saturday and Sunday nights.

My friend Gina is always raving about awesome "red sauce" that her husband Ryan makes. He was kind enough to freeze a little for me this fall when he put up just a few too many tomatoes for winter. It is nestled safely in my freezer currently, but while I wait to experience that awesomeness, I've been trying to cook up a little of my own.

Saturday was the second time I made my red sauce. I used Mario Batali's Basic Tomato Sauce as a starting point and just adjusted my ingredients a bit. For this batch, I used a can of peeled tomatoes (28z) and 1# of romas, copped, gutted and smushed. I supplemented the missing juices and sauce with about a cup of Malbec. The base of the sauce is a mirepoix, minus celery, plus garlic. I shredded the carrot this time (the first time it was a fine dice) and sauteed the veggies with some olive oil. Rather than Batali's heavily "thymed" recipe, I shook up my spices a bit. I used a heaping tablespoon of Herbs de Provence and then a shake or two of sea salt, and tons of freshly ground black pepper. What I FORGOT to do with this batch that made the last one so great was to thrown in a sprig of fresh rosemary while the sauce thickened. That extra spicing gives this simple sauce a really tasty kick.

I also pureed a little more than half of the sauce in the blender and mixed it back into the chunky portion. This is the texture I prefer in my tomato sauce...plus, it takes care of the extra skins from the fresh tomatoes.

Mine was not nearly this "chunky," but it's pretty!
Saturday this was served with linguini and pan fried eggplant-- sort of an eggplant parm pasta, I guess. The eggplant was a no brainer-- peel, chop into 1in. pieces, dip in soy milk, toss with magical breading from Refresh (nutritional yeast, wheat germ and garlic powder), and fry in just a smidge of oil until golden and crispy. A delicious meal, on the whole.

We used the sauce again for lunch on Monday, and it was (as could be expected) even better. I even had it Wednesday for lunch over cous cous. Am I the only person in this world who loves left overs? Sometimes I feel like it...

One trick I learned in making fresh tomato sauce in my few attempts so far...it gets this orange-ish color rather than maintaining the rich red of the fresh tomatoes. Solution? Roast a medium or small beet until tender and puree it with your sauce-- it brightens the color like magic!


Coco-nutty Tempeh Salad with Fresh Corn Chowder

Sometimes there is just nothing quite like crunchy, toasted coconut. It is nutty. It is coco-y. It is delicious with multi-grain tempeh! I realized this morning when I peeked in the fridge that I had at least 3 gallon size bags of greens that really need to be eaten. So, without compromising the heartiness that you just have to have for the day's main meal, I made soup and salad tonight with a side of sweet potato fries (okay, they were Yam fries). Here's what we had: 

Everything was delicious! Here's a little more detail...

The coconut tempeh was first marinated in water with salt, bay leaves and garlic for a couple hours. Then I rolled it in a spelt/soy/spice batter, rolled it in shredded (unsweetened) coconut and fried it up in a little safflower oil. The recipe is apparently a staple on the menu at Fresh in Toronto. Paul and I ate there on our anniversary this month while we were visiting. Delicious food, and who knew? They have a cookbook so I can recreate all their stuff at home. Hurrah! 

I put the coconut on top of a yummy collection of greens from our CSA. It was our LAST share this week, so it was bittersweet-- but mostly bitter and crunchy. The mix included mizuna greens and what I think might be Daikon greens. Whatever it was, it worked. I threw in some raisins, chopped apricots, sunflower seeds and toasted walnuts. The dressing was thrown together and focused around my delicious grapefruit white balsamic vinegar from Fustini's in Traverse City, MI. I mixed that with a little tahini (not logical, but pretty tasty), some apricot jelly and a bit of lime juice and zest. 

The corn chowder was straight out of the cookbook and had a carrot/potato base with a little onion. Add veggie bouillon, fresh cut corn and some adobe soaked chipotle for spice, and puree your little heart out. I poured it over additional fresh cut corn and mixed in a bunch of chopped basil and coarse black pepper. It was really filling, and while the ingredients were pretty summery, the soup was warming and offered cold comfort (except it was 68 today...what is up with this weather??). 

And with that nice summery weather in mind, I just couldn't get out of dinner without cooking up some sweet potato fries. I swear I've been having them 3-4 times a week. Not odd, I suppose, if you're a vegan. Who knows? I used Isa's recipe, but I make this stuff all the time. Cut them thin, toss them in olive oil and add spices to taste. Isa suggests cumin and coriander. I like it with my adobe spice blend from Penzey's plus a little sea salt. Bake 'em, flip 'em, and bake 'em a little more. 

I'd do it all over again...and I highly recommend the coconut tempeh. So yum! 


Thai Noodle Bowl from reFresh!

Usually Sunday nights roll around and all I want to do is order pizza or eat left overs. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I felt completely excited to make real food this week. I had just about all I needed to make this dish I've been meaning to try from my newest vegan cookbook, so I embarked upon creating delicious for Paul and I yet again.

I can't lie. This is one of the best things I've made since V-day. The recipe is from reFresh, by Ruth Tal, and it is probably the closest thing I've found to my old favorite, Pad Thai. It features a richly flavored, reddish-orange sauce tossed with rice noodles, marinated tofu, tomatoes, etc, and it gets topped with bean sprouts, peanuts and cilantro.

I forgot to take the pic before I dug in! 
The most interesting part of the sauce is that it has a carrot juice base. The key spices are paprika, chili powder, ginger and garlic. It also calls for lemon juice and a bit of lemon grass, something slightly harder to find. I got mine at Whole Foods, but they have it at local asian markets as well. There are a few other ingredients that help make the dish complete, but they seem relatively interchangeable, especially the stuff you're tossing in the wok at the end.

If you have the chance, pick this book up just to try this recipe-- it's divine and quite filling. I had leftovers for lunch the next day. :)


Smokin' Tofu Sammies

So I'm gradually working my way through the hi-nor-may stack of vegan cookbooks that I've purchased in the last 4 months. So far, so good, but there's a long way to go. 

Tonight's meal was completely delish: 
2701354559.jpgThese sandwiches were truly amazing. The tofu gets sliced pretty thin thin, briefly marinated with a thick sauce containing sugar, miso, tamari, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and liquid smoke, then baked. I smashed it onto some lightly grilled rye bread with spinach, green onions, Veganaise and avocado slices. The savory rye was a perfect compliment to the miso flavoring. The semi-mushy avocado kept the spinach in place and held the whole sammie together. It was definitely one of my greater successes thus far. I can't even tell you. Yum, yum, indeed!

The crispy sesame kale has become a standby in my home-- Paul and I sometimes share a bowl over Sunday afternoon football. For me, crispy kale is right for any occasion. Kale, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Perfection. 

We've also tried the polenta fries before, particularly for our Autumnal Equinox party as an appetizer. Something interesting I learned from Dreena Burton's recipe is that if you peel the outer layer of the polenta with a veggie peeler before you cut it into pieces, the oil and cornmeal are going to adhere better to the polenta. 

Polenta fries are just what they sound like-- take a roll of polenta, cut it up into fry-ish pieces and bake them. Dreena has you toss them with olive oil, cornmeal, rosemary and salt, and her book offers a couple other variations. You can imagine the versatility of that side dish. I like to serve these with spicy ketchup. I mix 3 T ketchup with about 1t. Siracha. It's great! 

I use my baking stone for extra crispiness on the fries...they get this nice crusty outside, but the inside is nice and soft, creamy, almost, but with a great texture. Dreena mentions that the longer they sit and cool the chewier the texture will be. They haven't been around long enough to find out at my house, but I imagine the flavor is still great. I love the salty rosemary...

Whipping everything together from start to finish (all three dishes) took about an hour. 

I'm going to have to get back into the habit of taking photos of my food if I'm going to be writing about it...I swear it was pretty, but sadly, these pics are "borrowed".  


What's going on here?!

So my friend Sarah suggested that I start a food blog. My initial thought was -- yes, that's a great idea! My secondary thought was-- I do NOT have time for a blog. But as the thought simmered for awhile, I recognized that I was in *deep* need of a creative outlet these days, and usually that creativity happens in the kitchen. This is just a way to share that with my friends...and a few strangers, I suppose.

We'll see. It's another one of those "I could eat a steak at any moment!" commitments...just testing the waters.

So the plan is to share what I'm cooking, for whom I'm cooking and what it's like at our table. Since veganization is new for me, most meals are still something fresh and interesting. I hope that I can share that freshness, new ideas and flavors with whoever is interested.

AND my husband still loves me...

I became a vegan in June, 2010. A youthful vegan-- I know. As I made the decision to change my eating style, I remembered a conversation I'd had with me soon-to-be husband while we were engaged:

Context: Just finished eating with a vegetarian friend at a yummy, expensive restaurant where there was virtually nothing she could eat.
Suz: So what would you do if I just stopped eating meat one day. Would that have been a deal breaker?
Paul: A deal breaker? Well, probably not if you had good reasons. It would be hard to eat together though, wouldn't it? We like to share food, so that would kinda suck.
Suz: Should we write that into the vows, then?
Paul: (slight smile and a chortle) Good idea.

That was about a year and a half ago. So eight months after Paul and I tied the proverbial knot, I did just what I never really imagined I'd do-- I stopped eating meat, all meat, and then I stopped eating dairy products and eggs too.

In the months shortly after my conversion, most people were supportive of my decision-- curious, but supportive. What was far more interesting, however, was their concern for Paul. "Wow, man-- how are you doing? Are you managing?" "So, you eating burgers for lunch every day? Heh heh..." "So are you dying yet, man?"  All of our friends were concerned that Paul was wasting away now that I wasn't stocking the fridge with animal products. In fact, Paul was and is just fine.

Granted, Paul never said that becoming a vegan would be a deal breaker, but I think it also has something to do withe the way it started out was as an "experiment." That was my sweet way of easing him into the idea-- "no promises, I might have a steak tomorrow!"-- and I think that is why we're still eating vegan at home now with no ruffles in the feathers of our fledgling partnership.

On top of that, Paul is pretty adventurous with food, so it's not surprising that he's come along fairly willingly on this ride. He's utterly convinced that what I make will always taste good, so that is another check in the "being a vegan is okay" column. We've both enjoyed trying all new types of foods and sharing them with each other. Interest in trying new things, in fact, has sometimes led Paul to eat vegan at lunch. He's not a convert, that's for sure, but eating at home is a joint adventure.

He was right in our long-ago conversation that eating out together can be a bit of a bummer, but that's only because he wants me to try his meaty food, and I just can't. When we both order vegan or veg when we go out, which sometimes happens, this is a non-issue. A larger issue for eating out is that some of our favorite places just don't have a thing on the menu for vegans. Even the salads are meaty and cheesy!

In any case, Paul and I survived (so far) the vegan conversion. While I still sigh a bit at a really nice meal out (like our anniversary meal at Lee in Toronto), most of the time we find something we can share and leave it at that.

Step one of becoming a vegan? Check.