Vegan Brunch, Europe, Cardamom

Jeff is joining us in vegan Lent this year. It’s cute because he’s asked me a few times this week, “So…how’s it going for you so far? It’s good for me!” And each time I’ve responded with a half smile (at his energy and ambition) and a hesitant, “It’s good….”…visited by memories of the *wanting cheese/crying in my priests office* incident from a few years ago….nonetheless….one week in….it’s good. It always is. This is the time when I feel clean….which is ironic because Pascha is still so far away. And clean usually comes after. But, in the in-between…after the energy and the ambition, there is a development of sadness and longing. Which is ironic. Or not.

Nonetheless…..with all of our energy and enthusiasm….we had a vegan brunch this weekend. At my house. To plan a trip to Europe. It was a wonderful morning. The first component for a successful vegan brunch is great people…the sort you love and you can be around in leggings and not feel judged. The second is great wine. We had both.

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We had sweet potato-black bean tacos…..the filling was a pretty basic mix of sweet potato, black beans, onion, cumin, chili powder and chipotle pepper powder.

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I wanted to try my hand at a faux-cheese, so I mixed tofu, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes and salt and fried them in a pan with some faux-butter. It wasn’t bad. Pro-tip regarding tofu….it must be squeezed of liquid, frozen, thawed, and then squeezed again to be most palatable. A tip that would have been super helpful during the 13 years that I was a vegetarian and choked down tofu pretending to like it in the name of non-violence to the earth and non-hardened arteries.

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Next, I mixed some vegannaise with lime, salt and cilantro. This condiment I stole from Marie Catrib, dear woman that she was, may her memory be eternal. It got a “THIS is VEGAN!?!?” That made me smile.

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that’s the mezzaluna my family bought me for christmas. i like it very much.

And then we ate and talked and got busy with making excel spreadsheets about pros and cons interrupted by stories of our travels past.

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here you can see both my crumbly faux cheese and Janalyn’s yummy cilantro tea with lemon, honey and cinnamon.

And then I made Turkish coffee. In a pot that was another Christmas present from my wonderful family. Just between you and me, I got the cardamom pods.

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Some people who are superstitious might think that my getting the cardamom pods means something. My dear situ may have said that it will keep the evil eye away, or my awesome friend John might say that it just further evidence that “It’s your year, kid!” cause he likes to say those things to me. But I’m not superstitious. Mostly I believe that the cardamom pods in the bottom of my cup are a thumbs up, saying that my Turkish coffee was really good. (Because it really was.) And that this year I will go to Europe with people that I love. And that this Lent, as every other Lent before, will begin with energy and ambition and feeling clean, and will end with sadness and longing. But that clean, and not just clean, but renewal and hope, will come again.