Story last updated at 1/29/2014 - 2:10 pm
Last weekend I got to participate in my other passion, roller derby. I was invited to Petersburg to assist with coaching and assessing new skaters so that they could play their first public scrimmage.
What a treat!
Leagues from Wrangell, Ketchikan and Petersburg converged together to make for an incredibly fun and exciting weekend. Everyone was wonderfully friendly, the camaraderie was amazing and the overall positive energy was intoxicating. I made new friends, got to re-connect with some old friends and in between all that; I got to eat some great food.
Grant and I stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast, Das Hagedorn Haus, owned and operated by Grant and Lila Trask. We all had a good chuckle about having two Grants under one roof. They greeted us warmly and went out of their way to ensure we were comfortable. The breakfasts were delicious and included a smoked salmon (white king) omelet and the traditional Dutch Baby, or as I know it, oven pancake.
A nice feature of Petersburg is that one can walk nearly everywhere. We were located right beside the recreational center, which is where we spent much of our weekend working with the skaters and referees. There is a little known fact about derby girls. Many of them are vegetarians and some are vegans. Full disclosure, I’m neither. I’m an omnivore. I like food; pretty much all kinds. It’s very difficult for me to wrap my brain around the idea of not eating a particular food group such as cheese, or bacon. Give up bacon? I shudder at the thought. Let’s not even go there.
I respect my friends for their dietary choices and we all get along. I was told respect has nothing to do with diets, and he was right. So, I can eat bacon and not feel guilty, which of course I do not.
However, after a humorous and teasing conversation with one of the Wrangell skaters, Assassin Kate, I was given the challenge of cooking vegan. I had to pause and give that serious thought. Can I cook a meal that is totally vegan, no cheese, butter, or animal products of any kind? I wasn’t sure. My husband Grant, or Dead Prez as he’s known in the derby world, reminded me that I make a delicious vegetarian chili. That prompted me to accept Assassin Kate’s challenge and I hit the grocery store as soon as I got home Monday afternoon.
I have to admit the shopping wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I mean, how hard is it to buy vegetables? It wasn’t the vegetables that were the difficult part; it was ensuring everything in the recipe was void of animal content. No cheese, no butter, no hidden pork seasoning, nada, zilch. It required some label reading and shopping in the organic section of the grocery store.
After this intense shopping excursion, I got home and realized I was actually very tired and didn’t really feel like cooking. We ordered pizza. With cheese. And sausage. And pepperoni. Don’t judge.
The next day was Vegan Dinner Day. It was also a special occasion. It was Grant’s birthday. When I told him what was for dinner his immediate response was “For my Birthday?!?” I said yes, I had accepted this challenge and he had to suck it up.
For this challenge, I had decided to make a vegetable tostada. There was no cheese or sour cream, but I think the flavor of the vegetables and spices more than made up for the lack of fat. I used sliced portabella mushrooms as a substitute for meat. They are dense and when cooked have the consistency of meat. Then I added lots of vibrant vegetables; peppers, onions and yellow squash. I seasoned with my new favorite spice, Ancho chili powder. It’s magic in a bottle. It’s got the warmth of a chili with some extra heat to perk up your dish. Love this stuff.
When I presented the tostada to Grant he was stunned with how beautiful it was and we were both pleased with how flavorful. I’ll never be a vegan because, well, bacon. But, I can definitely alter my menu once or twice a week to be vegetarian and more nutritious.
This week I present a recipe that is colorful, delicious and 100 percent vegan: Vegetable Tostada. Thank you Assassin Kate and all the skaters from Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan for encouraging me to do something new and giving me a weekend I’ll never forget. Challenge accepted and accomplished!
Until next time…
Eat and enjoy,
2 portabella mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, sliced
1 each red, green, and yellow pepper, large diced
1 yellow squash, sliced
2 flour or corn tortillas
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can black beans
2 cups shredded lettuce
¼ cup salsa
1 ripe avocado
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 scallions, sliced
Pre-heat large skillet to medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes. Add vegetables, garlic and spices. Cook until softened. Mushrooms should get brown on sides and caramelize. Taste and season with salt and pepper according to your likes.
Peel avocado and place in small bowl. Smash with fork until well blended and creamy. Add a pinch of red pepper for zest.
Heat black beans in bowl in microwave or in small sauce pan on stove.
In separate skillet, pre-heat vegetable (or olive) oil to medium high heat. Place tortilla in pan and cook on both sides until crisp. Three to five minutes total.
To plate, place tortilla on serving plate, top with beans, then lettuce, then vegetables. Add salsa, avocado, cilantro and scallions.
To make things easier, you can purchase pre-sliced vegetables and pre-made salsa.