Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Old Dogs and New Tricks

I have to admit that I am more frequently more cynical than I would aspire to be. Some might even say that I am not sufficiently charitable in spirit.

And they might be onto something.

However, I am excited and somewhat humbled to confess that I have learned something these past few weeks. That people can change. That you can, in fact, teach a 'venerable pooch disparate exploits'...if you catch my drift.

As faithful visitors to Cackleberry will recall, my Dear Mama has been visiting for a while. She arrived warily anticipating the culinary equivalent of Colditz - a dietary regimen of gnarly carrot sticks and toxically-green wheatgrass juice on one side and thwarted attempts to escape to a steakhouse on the other. (And no, before you wheatgrass devotees get on my case - there is nothing intrinsically wrong with grass juices or carrot sticks, but they're not really my bag either.) This delusion did not persist long, however, as - and the breadth of my rear will attest to this - I much prefer carrot cake (covered with a thick coating of vegan cream cheese frosting) to carrot sticks and sugar cane juice (from 'The Islands') to wheatgrass....

So it quickly became apparent to her that she was not about to starve on the cornucopia of new foods that awaited her. In fact, she was able to do what Erik Marcus suggests (in his current series of Oprah-related podcasts) and 'crowd out' the animal-based foods she has consumed all her life. Gone were the filets of tortured chickens, the steaks of 'spent' dairy cows and in their place were hills of beans, thick slabs of tofu, home-made seitan, toothsome tempeh, vibrant vegetables, mountainous plates of salads and the occasional egg-free, dairy-free, cruelty- and guilt-free dessert.

Together we investigated erstwhile unknowns like quinoa, low-glycemic load pasta (she's diabetic), TVP and other meat analogs of all kinds, nutritional yeast, collard greens, cashew butter, tapenade, israeli couscous, avocado, torn fresh herbs straight out of the garden in salads, oven-roasted garlic, home-blended hummus and, of course, some 'commercial' products too - Earth Balance and Braggs Aminos being perhaps two of the absolute favourites.

And so, it was a proud moment for me when I arrived home yesterday at dinnertime to find that My Dear Mama had taken it upon herself to recreate one of my childhood favourites: spaghetti bolognaise. Absent from this dish was the standard ground cow flesh with its accompanying heart-clogging fat and heart-rending cruelty and in its place was TVP. Also present were carrots, peas, onions, celery, green peppers, tomatoes, corn and a host of herbs. I had stopped on the way home to pick up a bottle of wine and so we sat aimiably in the garden, me virtually *inhaling* the pasta sauce, and celebrated Mum's newfound dexterity in the vegan kitchen.

Not a bad way to spend a Monday evening...

Cheers and Stay Vegan, Friends!