[Sca-cooks] feeding vegetarians/vegans was: RE: The 50th annual SCA-Cooks Thanksgiving list!

Anne-Marie Rousseau dailleurs at liripipe.com
Mon Nov 20 13:33:55 PST 2006

Hey all from Anne-Marie

Why is it so many non vegetarians assume that vegetarian=boring?

Don't get me wrong. High quality starting ingredients means you can let the
taste of the brussel sprout really shine through :) but it also means
without the automatic fat hit of butter or animal fats, you'll need to do
some thinking outside the box to get the flavor punch another way (so many
tastes/flavors are oil soluble...)

Creeping blood pressure has me thinking more and more about ways to maximize
flavor without maximizing fat. Ah, butter....my Norman heritage cries for

You can carmelize onions without butter (white wine and broth) and a mir
poix is an amazing source of richness. Toss some mushrooms in and when they
cook down and reabsorb all that liquid you got a gravy to kill for. And no
animal fats (no fat at all, unless you want to start with a dollop of heart
friendly olive oil). Carmelization is your friend!! Even plain root veggies
transcend to the sublime if you slick them with a bit of olive oil and roast
them at high temp for a bit. Roast baby carrots (already peeled if you're
rushed) and then sprinkle with thyme just before serving. I've never had
anyone need to put butter on them after that....

IMO the key to cooking for vegetarians (or anyone with food concerns) is to
make sure that no ingredient is in ALL the dishes. Make your veggie sides
with a high quality veggie broth (I'm a big fan of the pacifico organic
veggie broth that I can get by the case at my local cash and carry). Make
sure the table is a mix of colors as well as textures and flavors (I love
sage and have to remember not to put it into EVERYTHING). Be sure that
there's something really flashy as a "main dish" for the vegetarians
(stuffed acorn squashes?).

I highly recommend Deborah Madisons "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" for
anyone who is a vegetarian or just cooks for them :). She not only has
AWESOME recipes but has a good junk of discussion on how to cook a
vegetarian meal that is satisfying for everyone, doing what I like to call
"filling all the niches" :)

Another soap box of mine..if you want to be a vegetarian, why eat fake meat?
Or is fake meat something that non vegetarians serve to vegetarians because
they cant imagine a meal without a slab of something dead on the plate? ;)
(me I like my dead things just fine, mind you. But fake meat is just NOT
right somehow...)

Things can be a bit trickier when you're trying to balance the modern
vegetarian diet with period food and medieval meal planning but it can be
done :). 

Anyway, I guess this is my longwinded way of saying that vegetarian food
properly done can be amazing, flavorful and gobsmackingly good. You just
gotta play to its strengths :)

Good luck!
--Anne-Marie, who was a vegetarian for a long time (finances, political
reasons) and still cooks for them occasionally!

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