Saturday, April 28, 2012
Lesson Number One
I turned snack-making into my first mini-class at my sister Jill's house in San Jose, and it was particulay educational... for me. The family was gathered there after a day in Santa Cruz, and a late lunch on the pier. Nobody was hungry for a big dinner, but a little somethin' seemed like a good idea, and I wanted to share some of what I'd been learning. Rick and I went to the nearby whole foods and picked up what we needed for spring rolls and nori rolls.
I knew Dad and Jill wouldn't be too interested in the technique, but I thought my other sister Linda would be. She doesn't like to cook, so I really simplified the ingredients. Instead of making everything from scratch, I bought hummus, a bag of baby spinach, and decided to use crunchy fresh bell pepper instead of roasting it. Back at Jill's, after a minor amount of chopping, we were ready to roll - literally.
Linda paid attention, and was soon creating beautiful rolls, all by herself. I was very proud. We whipped up a simple peanut sauce, sliced up the rolls, and called everyone to the table. After some oohing and ahhhing, and, "You guys made this?" the tasting began. Rick loves this stuff, so he was a happy boy. Linda is vegetarian, though not vegan, so she was in familiar territory. She preferred the softer-skinned, rice wrapper spring rolls over the chewy (okay, sometimes kind of rubbery) nori. Dad politely called the food "interesting" and we all laughed, but I knew he'd rather have had a pizza. Jill was kind of quiet... She ate half of a spring roll, said nothing, and declined to try the nori rolls because she didn't like the smell. Okay, so maybe we should have ordered a pizza.
I could have gotten my feelings hurt, but that wouldn't have been useful. This was a great learning opportunity for me. The lesson? When introducing lifelong, dedicated meat-eaters to vegan fare, it's probably best to go for what we call "transitional" foods. Something familiar like a nice hearty bean loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans or broccoli with cheese sauce, maybe a salad, or Mac and cheese, or even a good faux meat of some kind. I forgot that things like seaweed can be weird, intimidating, and even icky to the uninitiated. I won't forget it again. This was a really good experience for me. Fortunately, nobody was terribly hungry, and I think Linda has some new tricks up her sleeve that she'll enjoy using and sharing. I feel pretty good about the whole thing, and am now looking forward to my next impromptu class.