Vegan Breakfast Casserole

Photo: Dave Irving

This is one of the most searched for posts on The VeganAsana, so it is always good for a repost, and we had it last night for dinner!

It’s an easy recipe, but it does take about 2 hours to cook. I  use a half-steamer disposable foil tray for cooking this, just because it is a little hard to clean out of a pan.

If you want to be extra, you can use fresh potatoes, shredded, but we like it with tater tots. We are just classy like that.

Breakfast Casserole

2 blocks firm or extra firm tofu, drained
¼ cup unsweetened soy milk
1 package of your favorite faux sausage (this time I used Lightlife)
1 package frozen hash browns or tater tots
1 medium onion, diced
Other veggies to taste: red pepper, spinach, kale, mushrooms
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp black salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
Daiya or other cheese (yesterday, I used Follow Your Heart)

Depending on the form of your fauxsage, you may want to fry it first. Most of the “patties” don’t require that.

Place tofu in food processor or blender with the soy milk. Pulse until fully broken up and liquidy. You actually *can* stop earlier if you want your tofu to be more chunky and to sit on top of the potatoes. We like ours to sink between the tater tots, but that does require additional baking time to wait on it to set up.

Fold in nutritional yeast, turmeric, cumin, and salt.

If you are using a standard baking dish, cover the bottom with parchment paper. Add veggies (except spinach/kale – that you would place in a layer on top of the tofu) to hash browns or tater tots. Add tofu mixture and spread evenly. Sprinkle on or place sausage. Cover with vegan cheese.

Cover with foil and cook at 375* for an hour. Remove foil and continue cooking until heated through and the tofu has mostly firm back up.

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


Life with People – It’s Not Easy

Sometimes, Astrid Cat has to go get into her garage. Generally, she has her head and front legs hanging out the front, but today, she was 100% tucked into the garage, as if she just really wanted a little time alone. And, I really feel that.

As an introvert, in some ways it’s not that hard to be self-quarantining at home. I’ve left the house a total of 5 times in the last six weeks. And most days, I’m not too bothered by not going anywhere. Though, I will say that, even for me this is a long time to not leave the house for more than an hour.

But, on the other hand, for an introvert this is a lot of time to be with people – twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. And I can feel myself getting a little more stressed by the nearness of others as the weeks extend. I am sure they are feeling the same about me.

I’ve been looking for some ways to reduce friction. My spouse and I are both working from the house and we have very different working styles. I am not a fidgeter, and I usually don’t like music while I work, but if I do it is soft music. He is a tapper and a wiggler and he does like music while he works – kind of loud too. It would be easy for me to get fussy with him for not being still or for playing music. But that isn’t really fair if those things enable him to work more effectively. My style of working isn’t better than his. So, I’ve just made myself a little work area in the family/tv room, since usually no one is here. It’s not quite as convenient in some ways (in fact, right this minute, I’m realizing I really need to get into the office and do some paperwork at the desk tomorrow), but it works better for me and him and I can always go in the office for a while if I want to.

Historically, we always ate at the table as a family for dinner. Then I was away from home for most days of the week for about three years and they got used to all eating wherever and whenever they felt like it. And, right now, spouse and I are working many hours every day on teaching and/or research, two of the adult children are doing college classes online, and two have sleep/wake schedules somewhat different than ours. So, I could insist that we all eat at the table, but I don’t. It does tend to mean that I cook, everyone grabs food and runs, and I (or spouse and I) clean up, but it’s what seems to be least friction-producing right now, so I’ll take it.

At the end of the day, living with other adults isn’t easy. Everyone has their annoying habits – goodness knows I do. But, we have to show each other a little grace and try not to become overly focused on the parts of each other that are annoying or we’ll all just end up miserable. As I’m watching friends and neighbors lose people to COVID-19 and miss their final days, that seems more important than expressing my annoyance over someone else’s behavior, even if it means sometimes “eating” my feelings a bit (I just wash them down with carbs). I would love to be able to say that I’m 100% successful at it, but I’m not. I’ll keep trying though.

So, whoever you are spending your time with right now, I wish you patience and equanimity, or at least the ability to pretend that you are feeling those things. And whether you are able to manage that or not, I wish you good snacks!

Vegan Cooking for the Unenthusiastic Omnivore

PanDogNote: This post contains discussion of meat, dairy, and eggs. If you don’t want to read that material, stop now.
Simply view this unrelated but excellent image of a dog in a panda hat (taken by Ms.TheVeganAsanaJr2, aka Emmie) and then go off on your merry way!

I’ve written before about the challenges of cooking for a multivore family, and that continues to be something that I get asked about frequently and that occupies my own attention, with a family that has vegans, vegetarians, and very committed omnivores. Luckily for me, my family has always been supportive of my vegetarian and vegan journey; however, I think that is partly because I’ve always treated it as my journey, not as a forced march. In this post, I offer some additional tips and thoughts on how to be the primary cook as a vegan in a household where other members are omnivores.

1. Recognize that your choice is about you.

When you first become vegan or vegetarian, you may find that you suddenly know things about factory farms or animal husbandry or meat processing that you never realized. You may begin to feel that if everyone knew these things, of course they would be vegan. That’s wrong and not really fair. Lecturing family members (or anyone, really) about a vegan diet is no different than lecturing others about why they should convert to your religion. People don’t appreciate it and it likely won’t go well. You are the person that you have authority over. Choosing a vegan/vegetarian diet for you is a choice for you, unless the others in your house voluntarily go along (or you have children that you feel are too young to make a good choice).

2. Everyone has their limits. Know theirs. Know yours.

With six children in TheAsana house, we couldn’t afford (literally or metaphorically) for everyone to want a different dinner. So, that just doesn’t happen. But, everyone got a short list of three items that they just could not stomach in any form (we made an exception such that “meat” became a category that someone could say no to). Some people only had one item (i.e. the dreaded mushroom), while others used all three. But, this gave me, as the cook, a clear list of things that I needed to make substitutions for when they were a main ingredient, so that the naysayer had something to eat.

Similarly, if you have not always been a vegan/vegetarian in your current family, you may not be able to stop having meals with meat in the house entirely (particularly in a family that includes children). So, it is important to establish what your absolute limits are. Many vegans can eat at the same table as someone having a meal containing meat. Many can cook meat for others, as needed, but not consume it themselves. In my house, while I will still cook meals containing meat, I will not (can not) cook the “big dead bird” type of meals and limit meat preparation that requires extensive handling. I also can’t do it every day.

3. Be willing to negotiate. 

You probably have full stop no-can-do items (see #2), but after that, there is room for negotiation. If you can’t stand the idea of making hamburger patties, could you cook them if someone else made them or you buy them prepared? Is there someone else in the house who can do some meat prep on the weekends for ease later in the week? Can you establish some compromises on how often meat will be included in a meal? It may seem silly to actually hash it all out, but it really can be helpful in establishing expectations.

4. Get creative!

My grandmother told me that you can catch more flies with honey (or agave) than you can with vinegar. You can also win over more people to the idea of eating vegan food once you show them that vegan food tastes good. This can happen pretty easily if you start with foods where the meat/dairy/egg isn’t the focus and play to the strengths of a vegan diet. Vegan pancakes are lovely, and no one needs to even know until they finish eating. Spaghetti with marinara sauce, maybe even with some TVP thrown in, is a delicious and filling meal. Nachos with refried beans are a fan favorite in a lot of houses, as are bean burritos. And who doesn’t like biscuits and gravy (if it’s you, don’t tell me)? You can also make vegan items that have meat and cheese on the side for adding to the plates of people who eat them (ground beef and cheddar for nachos, sausage with the pancakes, meatballs for the pasta).

Basically, the goal should be that people don’t feel punished or shamed for not having made the choice that you made, and begin to see vegan food as a normal choice, not as an unattractive and overly health option that is primarily berries and leaves.

At the end of the day, there is one person whose eating habits you really get to control, and it’s you. You may be able to draw a line in the sand of not having meat served in your house or not cooking it, but you can’t make others be ok with that choice, any more than they can make you be ok with a non-vegan diet.