our very vegan visit

food detective

Categories: Appetizers, Salads and Dressings, Soups, Veggies and Sides, Dinner for Two, Supper, Cocktail Party, Lunch, Sources, Posted on May 24, 2022 by Sandy Bergsten

Last weekend was a first of many. The first time my stepson and his family were visiting us in Chicago. The first time we would have a little person in our apartment (previously, pre-covid, we’ve only had a baby). And this would be my first attempt at creating a four-day menu that was completely vegan.

I pride myself on being adaptable and nimble at crafting special meals for particular guests. But there is a big difference from making one dinner with dietary restrictions and stringing together several days of breakfasts, lunches and dinners that are out of your wheelhouse.

I can easily go meatless, but forgoing butter, eggs and cheese is a stretch. The one thing about vegans is that absolutely everything must be plant-based. Nothing can have a mother or a face. I even learned that honey is a no-no. And most who are vegans are passionate about it. Knowing this, I wanted to dive deep and try my best to rise the occasion to make our visiting family feel completely at home.

On my recent trip to visit my dad, my outbound flight had a three-hour mechanical delay. As I sat on the plane tethered to the gate, I distracted myself by researching vegan dishes. I found this incredible website “Love and Lemons”. It prompted me to search and counter-search. It became a culinary crossword puzzle I was determined to solve. By the time we taxied to takeoff I had a complete array of potential meals. 

I certainly leaned a lot. And I must say it was all actually delicious. There is so much to cover that I will continue into the next post. For now, here are some highlights. 

To the delight of our three-year old grandson, I greeted them with freshly baked vegan chocolate chip cookies. 

Hip hip hooray for Sweet Loren’s cookie dough in the refrigerator case at Whole Food’s.

Our first lunch was sweet potato soup. Sauteed sweet potatoes and apples, simmered with aromatic spices, vegetable broth and coconut milk make this creamy and comforting. 

And because it freezes so well, I could make it well in advance and pull it out of the freezer for a satisfying lunch after an energetic tour of the Field Museum. Perfect with focaccia that I had stowed in the freezer, toasted, and topped with mashed avocado, a spritz of lemon and a sprinkle of Maldon salt.

There are some recipes that are inherently vegan. My marinara is one. I made up a big pot and froze that as well.

Then for dinner I thawed the sauce in two pots and simmered vegan Gardein meatballs in one and some of my homemade roasted Italian meatballs (that I had made ahead of time and froze) in the other to help appease my struggling carnivor husband.

My daughter-in-law who is expecting their second adores zucchini fries. So I was delighted to find this recipe for baked zucchini chips. It was the perfect starter. The vegan secret, use Just Egg, plant-based egg substitute for the egg wash.

Served up with a bright romesco sauce.

Vegan recipes benefit from a high-speed blender.

My Vitamix did an awesome job of whirling almonds into this creamy base.

Or use cashews and cucumbers.

To whip up a yummy vegan ranch dressing.

Stay tuned for more in my next post.  

And what fun to explore Chicago through the eyes of a three-year-old. It’s such a family-friendly city.  Here are some links to explore….

Chicago Children’s Museum

Lincoln Park Zoo

Shedd Aquarium 

Field Museum 

Skydeck Chicago 

Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier

Maggie Daley Park

Chicago Children’s Theater

Adler Planetarium

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

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