Growing up, it never occurred to me to question Mom’s dinner choices. She cooked it. She called us to the table. We ate it. We asked to be excused from the table when we were done. Bodabing, bodabong. That’s just the way it was…it was simply what was for dinner.
Now, the girls are the first to point out that as a child, you don’t question grandma (She’s a tough cookie…fair, but tough). So, they’re not at all surprised that I can’t remember ever complaining about dinner (with the exception of liver and onions, a dinner that for completely mysterious reasons, almost everyone in my family loved. I DESPISED liver.).
Well, as I was planning out my latest family-style vegan dinner, it dawned on me. Why am I deliberately seeking meals for which I’ll receive the girls’ “approval?” Now, I’ve made plenty of fantastic dinners a la vegan for the girls in the past several months. Well, I’ve thought they were almost all magnificent and tasty choices. But even if the girls didn’t agree (and trust me, they haven’t always had the same high regard for my vegan culinary competency), they have rarely ever outwardly retched. But as you’ve already read, I’ve gotten some comments about how “vegan” the meals have been lately. (Sigh….)
So, after we’d all spent another wonderful hour of “family time,” a.k.a., shoveling six inches of snow off the driveway together (yes, that’s sarcasm dripping right there….), I flew to the Vegan Cooking for Carnivores cookbook, flipped a couple of pages, and simply chose something that sounded wonderful to me. What better choice, I thought, than to end a snowy and blustery cold winter evening with a hot bowl of Roberto Martin’s chili.
Off I headed through the snow with my 4-wheel-drive Jeep to get the ingredients. A day of “twenties,” it was. Twenty minutes to and from the store. Twenty minutes of vegetable chopping, and twenty minutes of simmering. Dinner was served. How easy is that?!?!
I called out gently to the girls from the base of the stairs. Nothing. This time, my infantry heritage took hold. Well, what do you know? They heard me this time.
The girls trudged down the stairs the way teenage girls do. They poured themselves drinks, Kaitlyn her skim milk and Chelsea her almond milk. And they ate, pausing only to complain (as teenage girls do) about how hot the chili was (temperature, not spiciness).
At the end of the meal, both girls asked to be excused from the table, handwashed their bowls and plates, and trudged back upstairs to their rooms (as teenage girls do).
And it occurred to me….perhaps by not asking what they’d like for dinner, I’ve suddenly become much like my mother. Okay, so that’s a stretch. Perhaps not exactly like my mother…but I did learn an important lesson. When I cooked dinner and simply presented it without a proud exclamation about its “veganism,” I actually got two empty bowls, and no complaints. Hmmmm….I kind of like this “vegan” approach to parenting.
So, for those of you wondering…
Here’s the Veggie Chili recipe:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced small
8 ounces button mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dry oregano, crushed between your palms
2 teaspoons chili powder
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 zucchini, diced small
2 large tomatoes, diced medium
1 12-ounce package Smart Ground Mexican
1 cup vegetable broth
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Kosher sale and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
Vegan cheddar cheese, grated
Heat a large soup pot or small stockpot over high heat, add the oil, and wait until it shimmers. Add the onions and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until the onions are lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the next 10 ingredients, and season with salt and pepper. Bring the chili to a simmer and it’s done! Serve in bowls, garnished with the sliced scallions and vegan cheddar.
*Note: I prefer my chili a little less thick than some people, so I added two additional cups of the vegetable broth, along with a little additional seasonings.