Saturday Evening Post: going vegan

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20131012 buttery mashed potatoesThe past few days I’ve been looking for more vegan blogs to follow. They inspire me, and I also want to support vegan bloggers by sharing their good recipes on my facebook page. I came across one blog that made me very happy, it’s called 2 Broke Vegans. No, thinking of poor college students does not make me happy. But seeing young people trying to figure out how to be vegan in a place where nobody understands veganism (Greece, in this case), that brought back memories. It also made me feel old, thinking about going through the same things myself a whole 15 years ago. It made me think of funny stories….

The why & how story is a little too long and complicated, maybe I can break it down into parts one day. But last night reading This Post I remembered going to Tete’s house for Sunday dinner, and watching her make a giant pot of mashed potatoes. She added milk and sour cream to make them extra creamy, and so much butter the potatoes actually turned yellow. When it was time to sit down and eat, I had nothing but a big pile of salata on my plate.

“Aren’t you going to have any mashed potatoes?” Tete asked. “I made them just for you.”
“But…they have dairy in them.” She looked confused and hurt. She had no idea what vegan meant.
My aunt told me, “It’s not going to kill you, just eat it.”
I reluctantly put a small spoonful on plate. I poked at it with my fork. My dad took pity on me, and ate the super buttery potatoes off my plate when no one was looking.

The funny part is, my aunt now eats I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter, and skim milk, and low fat or fat free sour cream. If she were faced with a giant pot of butter yellow potatoes with full fat everything, she would not eat them. So, just give it time…I doubt everyone around you will eventually turn vegan – I’m still the only full time vegan in my family. But at the very least, after a while they might be more understanding, and maybe make fun of you a little less.

labor day stuff

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Mumra and I drove down to Marshall to visit with her family during the holiday weekend. Just a few random pictures from the day…

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I have admired this sign for years and years and always wanted a picture. Usually there’s too much traffic to stop, or the weather is bad, or it’s dark or I just forget. This time we finally stopped, and the only issue was teaching Mumra how to use a digital camera. But she took lots of shots and a few actually did turn out just fine, although they didn’t all include the sign 🙂

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The path to the island…

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Getting to the island must have been slightly more exciting about 50 years ago, before my great-grandfather decided to have a bulldozer push more land into the water so we could take a foot bridge instead of a boat. But it’s still pretty cool.

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The cabin, known as Mouseturd Manor.

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We had a potluck. I brought fava, it went great with grandma’s gluten free bread, her vegan baked beans and somebody’s bean salad.

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These pictures of the guys from Kiss came from a bedroom wall in my grandparent’s old house. My sister and I hated sleeping in that room because the pictures scared the heck out of us…

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Somehow they don’t seem quite so scary anymore.

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A little rustic, but we like it 🙂

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Down at the dock…

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nice view of the Kzoo river.

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The family. They love playing these games, I usually just prefer to watch because I’m not very athletic or coordinated AT ALL. But this time they got me. Grandpa and I *almost* won a game of ladder ball…

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grandma and I didn’t even come close to winning a game of cornhole. But we still had fun!!!

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It’s nice kinda being in the middle of nowhere.

What did you do for the holiday weekend?

eating with grandma

Random food pictures from this weekend, when Mother and I visited the grandparents.

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Grandma found these gluten free vegan mushroom rolls at the Farmer’s Market. I was the only one brave enough to eat a couple. They were…weird. The texture was nice for gluten free, but taste was kind of strange. Even grandma said to please take them home because she tried one little bite, and that was enough. I try not to eat things with a million ingredients, but I guess I’ll do it for my grandma, and for Mother’s Day : )

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At least we had nice salads for dinner. I brought along some of the cashew cottage cheese-type stuff I made for Pascha and I didn’t even need any dressing, just a little salt and pepper.

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Mom added balsamic vinegar to hers.

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Luckily most of my family loves popcorn as much as I do. We each had our own giant bowl to eat while watching the season finale of Survivor (I never watch the show at home, but have seen the past two finales with my grandparents). I made another mustard sauce, but used olive oil this time instead of margarine.

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Pretty good stuff. I sprinkled it with a little garlic and a lemon seasoning blend.

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Asparagus for lunch, blackened in olive oil with fresh garlic and lemon juice, and a bit of salt.

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Even more blackened food. Mom did the cauliflower…

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and grandma lightly boiled some Brussels sprouts.

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Our lunch.

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We used some of the fancy mustard from my Pascha basket to dress up the veggies.

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And P.S. I had Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum for the first time in about 20 years. I spent both the car ride there and back blowing bubbles and then biting them and making that horrible popping sound. Mumra didn’t even complain.

Urban Family sushi party

Last night I attended my first ever Urban Family Dinner. I am not an urban girl myself, although I visit the city often, so I was very lucky to attend. And even more so because it was a make-your-own-sushi night! The dinners are hosted by my friend, A, who is known as Urban Mother, and her neighbor, J, who is known as Urban Father. Father hosted this time. I’m sorry I didn’t take more pictures, but I always forget when I’m having a good time.

I forgot to turn the fisheye lens off before A took this picture of me cutting carrots for the sushi. J asked me to julienne them while another friend was supposed to julienne the cucumber. After he left the room, we looked at each other and I said, “I know I have a food blog, but…I dunno what that means!” “Yeah, me neither.” We were able to guess it, and later J confirmed. I better brush up on my culinary terminology.

*Very* similar to the classic salad with ginger sauce I get at local Japanese restaurants. J made the dressing from scratch – there was a ton of it, but I’m pretty sure we ate it all. I should’ve gotten the recipe!! The salad was just basic iceberg lettuce with cabbage, carrots and long, thin green beans (looked like Chinese green beans, but not as long?). The dressing had fresh ginger, grated carrots, garlic, maybe some sesame oil…I’m not sure what else. I fully intended to fill up on sushi, but I had to get seconds of the salad because the dressing was addicting.

Some of the items for the sushi: marinated mushrooms, sweet potato and green beans.

Notice the julienned carrots and cucumber…. Not everything was vegan, but there was a ton of vegan stuff. There were two other vegans at the dinner, which awesome because I currently have no vegan friends : (

Here’s my little guy, filled with every veggie available. I believe the fancy, rice-on-the-outside roll was made by J. Isn’t it pretty?

I probably should’ve added a few more things, but I was trying to hurry so I could EAT. I was thinking about sushi all day long, so I just wanted to get down to business (stuffing my face).

Yum. Sticky rice, creamy avocado, sweet…sweet potato, crunchy carrot, salty soy sauce. This baby has it all.

Minnie’s recipes: the truth about my family’s Syrian cooking

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Minnie <3 (far right in the picture on the left)

Friday I posted my family’s Syrian kidney bean salad recipe. Fati, of fati’s recipes (you’re not supposed to capitalize the f), commented she had never seen that recipe before…and she is FROM Syria! Sure enough, I googled the recipe and only one website came up with that same recipe. My blog. Seemed curious to me.

I called Tete Saturday morning to inquire, and I was surprised by her answer. “My mom probably just put things together. She came here when she was 17, she was married at 14 and didn’t have her parents or anyone to teach her.” No wonder our fattoush is different, and I also did some googling for a Syrian macaroni recipe and found not a single thing like Tete’s. Of course, I have to say…I definitely prefer my family’s fattoush. I haven’t had the macaroni in years, since it’s one of the most non-vegan foods Tete makes, but I remember how it tastes. It’s delicious. And all our recipes were made by a genuine Syrian woman, so they are still Syrian recipes, right? Whenever I post them from now on, I’ll be sure to call them “Minnie’s Syrian whatever” to give credit to my great grandmother. And one day I’m going to veganize her macaroni recipe!