A Working Vegan Household Cook – Survival Tips

5 oclockSo, if you have been reading daily this month: first, bless your heart and then second, you may have noticed that I missed yesterday. I’m finding it a challenge to post daily all month, mostly because I don’t cook vegan food daily. Yep, that’s what I said.

Like many of you, I work outside the home and am also engaged in the activity of feeding my family. And that requires some negotiation of expectations (mine more than theirs) about what it means to provide a meal.

There are a number of strategies that I use to cope with the multiple challenges of working, feeding my family, getting some exercise time, doing household chores, and not losing my mind.

First, I have let go (mostly) of the idea that I need to be the cook every day. I don’t like to order out, but about once every week to ten days, we do. Last night, I was bone tired, busy, and annoyed. Mr. non-VeganAsana recommended we order pizza or something. I felt a little bad because Ms. VeganAsana Jr. was home from college and I thought I should make her a home cooked meal. But, ultimately, we ordered the pie. For the vegans, we got this great pizza from a local place, Stella’s, that is called the Salad Pie. It’s a salad on pizza crust. I meant to take a picture, but I ate it instead.

Second, I plan the week’s menu ahead so that I don’t spend a lot of time each day trying to figure out what to make. I don’t assign meals to days, because I like the flexibility of being able to decide which item to make which day depending on my time and energy level. The only exception I made to that is that I typically make the “meat” (sorry) meals early in the week right after we grocery shop.

Third, when I make something really labor intensive, like lasagna or eggplant non-parm, I try to make enough to freeze a second batch. Knowing you have a homemade meal in reserve is a good feeling.

Fourth, but related, I have embraced the leftover. When there are leftovers in my house, if they are vegan, they will be eaten. I’ll use some for lunches, but the rest will be served for dinners. I have no hesitation in repurposing items to serve them again. Chili becomes nachos or chili dogs. Spaghetti with marinara becomes spaghetti casserole. Recycling rocks.

Fifth, I have stopped feeling like I have to feed everyone, or even anyone, all the time. Three evenings a week, I have a yoga class pretty shortly after I get home and don’t want to eat beforehand. Now that Ms. VeganAsana is away at school, I just don’t bother to make a vegan meal, necessarily, on those days. If the meal I’m making happens to be vegan, that’s great, but if the omnis want something more omni (and especially if that something is also easy), then that’s what I make. I am also willing to let people forage now and then. Remember those leftovers? Those are fine to be eaten, and if the teens don’t want them, they will not expire from eating PB&J or making themselves another type of sandwich or some quick nachos from canned beans.

Those are my key strategies for making it through a week.

They are also part of why I started having VeganMoFo burnout at the end of the month, because I just don’t cook enough vegan items each week to post pictures of. I’m pretty ok with only having missed one day this month! As always, it was good to participate in the MoFo and to see what everyone else is making and writing about.

What are your strategies for making it through a week of cooking?

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Sesame Noodles with Edamame

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Guest chef and photographer – Miss E.

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1 lb thin spaghetti noodles
3 cups edamame beans
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce or Bragg’s
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
3 T hot chili oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 T brown sugar

IMG_1146webBoil water for pasta with olive oil.  Cook pasta and edamame per directions until al dente.  Drain.  While pasta is cooking, mix all remaining ingredients except sesame seeds and beans, and wisk together.  After pasta is ready, toss the noodles and beans in the sauce mix.  Chill if desired.  Add sesame seeds just before serving.

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Vegan Breakfast Casserole

Photo: Dave Irving

Flashback Friday for a Meatless Morning.

This is one of the most searched for posts on The VeganAsana, so it seemed like a perfect choice for Flashback Friday during VeganMofo.

We love breakfast casserole around the VeganAsana house. The omnis sometimes like theirs with some meat products, but are usually just as happy with a vegetarian version. For the rest of us, vegan is the way to go. We rarely get to have this for breakfast, due to the time needed for cooking, but it is a favorite dinner dish (and it pops up for special breakfasts, like on Christmas day). The “recipe” is pretty easy.

What follows is the amount that I make to fit in a large Pampered Chef casserole, so about the size that you would need for a 9×13 pan. This is enough for 4 of us to have a meal and have leftovers (that I hide in the fridge so that I can take them to school for lunch). Halve the recipe for a smaller group. You can certainly substitute the prepared potatoes with your own shredded fresh potatoes!

Breakfast Casserole

2 blocks extra firm tofu, drained
1 “roll” lightlife faux sausage (optional)
1 package frozen hash browns or tater tots
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 t turmeric
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t sea salt (ground fine)
olive oil
daiya or other cheese

Cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil and add onion. Saute until soft. Add faux sausage and brown, chopping into small bits while cooking.

Place tofu in food processor or blender. Pulse until fully broken up and starting to get mushy, but not until liquified. Gently fold in nutritional yeast, turmeric, cumin, and salt. If you over blend, don’t worry about it. It will take longer for the tofu to firm up, but eventually it will.  If your tofu seems overly dry, you may want to add a little soy milk when you fold in the spices. This will help make the potatoes nice and tender.

Cover the bottom of a casserole pan with parchment paper. Add hash browns or tater tots (yep, tots). Sprinkle fauxsage evenly across surface. Add tofu mixture and spread evenly.

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Cover with foil and cook at 350* until heated through and the tofu has begun to firm back up. Add Daiya (optional) and continue to bake until tofu is firm and Daiya is melted.

Remove from oven and allow to settle (covered) for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

YUMMY!