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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fresh and Refresh

Last evening, I gathered with the members of my Buddhist community for a vegetarian / vegan potluck dinner. Our teacher, Suco T.Q. hosts these dinners throughout the year, and without fail, they are always well attended and enjoyed by all participants. The food is always top notch, with our cooks bringing out tried and true dishes or new and exciting ones.

Typically, I do a combination of both - making something I know is a winner but also experimenting with something new. Last night, I took the occasion to follow a recipe for sweet potato & coconut milk soup (from Fresh, a vegan restaurant/juice bar in Toronto). What a fabulous recipe - subtle hints of ginger, pineapple & orange, the pureed texture, the colour - my hats off to the chef who created this dish.

Another delightful dish was a swiss chard pie. I didn't get a chance to discuss the ingredients with the person who brought this, but it was delicious. From what I could tell, the two-crust pie held a filling of swiss chard and cheese but in delicate ratio - neither was overpowering (ie not to heavy on the cheese, nor the stronger chard). The result was an amazingly light pie, with this delectable filling. (I'll try to get the instructions on this next time I see this member.)

One of our sangha-mates, a marvelous cook brought several traditional Filipino desserts. I tried a rice & sesame seed patty, drizzled in a light syrup. How to describe, hmmm.....a firm, chewey, sticky, sweet "cookie" with a delicate sesame flavour and that syrup? What was that? Honey?

Oh so many dishes - all so good. If only all gatherings were like this and really. why could they not be? As my own extended family's Christmas celebrations near, I have chosen to prepare the foods that they enjoy. My dear sister-in-law, bless her heart, has taken on the job of preparing a turkey. Although this will not be a vegan dinner, I am preparing vegetarian dishes. I am not sure what it is that prevents me from preparing completely meat and dairy free dishes. But it seems to be a combination of stress & fear. Large dinners (20 people) are not my forte; thankfully, the cooks in the family do contribute each year so no one person is stuck with the immense job of creating all the dishes. But I do entertain in my personal thoughts just announcing to one and all, "there will be no turkey this year - it will be a Green Christmas!"

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2 comments:

justine said...

has your budhist community got a cookbook? My gramma's church does.

Compassionate Consumption said...

Hello Justine,

At this time, no, we do not have a cookbook. But we have discussed it on and off over the last few years. Thank you for asking though - your question may be the impetus that we need to get one going!!

Prasad