If you live in the Bay Area, you probably have friends and family eager to crash at your place so they can enjoy the area without paying San Francisco hotel prices. If you’re vegan and they’re still eating chicken nuggets, then your cooking becomes more important—like it or not, your kitchen will be representing cruelty-free dining at it’s best (or worst). If your guests are stuck eating carrots, sprouts and hummus for a week, they may leave with a negative impression of veganism and thus will be much less likely to read a Veg Starter Kit or watch Meet Your Meat.
Impress them as you put a new spin plain vegan vanilla ice cream
Cinnamon Orange Ice Cream
Maple-cinnamon Ice Cream
Coriander Ice Cream
Fresh strawberry or berry Ice Cream
Lemon-clove Ice Cream
Cranberry Ice Cream
Think about any change you might make in your life—use exercise as an example. Seeing other people enjoying themselves makes you more interested, doesn’t it? Not too long ago I considered taking up swimming. While on a trip to Alaska to visit family, I watched my mother and sister compete in a triathlon. Thankfully I was fully dressed and drinking a large soy latte at the time or I wouldn’t have survived the experience. They had to change clothes in front of other racers, dive into a freezing cold lake with green things floating in it, get wet all over and then wear wet things while on a bike, sit on overturned 5 gallon buckets to put their shoes on, and to top it off, most of these activities took place on cold wet grass really early in the morning. Obviously, after that, I knew to avoid swimming.
Ultimate Frisbee may work, though. It seems as if UF players end games in a very hyper mood, they’re happy, they go out for pizza after games and they often wear strange outfits. It’s true that I’ve never played a team sport but I’m temped for the first time, and it’s because I see someone doing it and having fun (and they don’t seem to change in front of strangers, or start too early).
That’s what you’re doing with food. Give someone a few pieces of unseasoned tofu, because you’ve come to like it over the years, and you’re giving someone a few reasons to never learn more about eating veg. So go ahead and stock your kitchen for the house guests—think of the animals in animal factories right now, go to the store, and get that junk food you stopped eating 5 years ago.
Get some basics, so folks can see and eat familiar foods. Chips and salsa and guacamole, oatmeal, bagels, etc. Get a few faux products like Gardenburger BBQ Riblets, Tofurky sausages, vegan ice cream, tofutti cream cheese—but don’t get any vegan cheese, those don’t tend to make cheese-eaters happy.
If you like to cook, then you’re set. Go to town with your favorite (rich and decadent) vegan recipes. If you don’t, give your guests a Tofurky sausage BBQ with Maggie Mudd’s ice cream cakes for dessert. Or make your own ice creams to save money and fool your mother into thinking you’ve finally taken up gourmet cooking.
Making Your Own Ice Cream
Start with 1 quart softened vegan vanilla ice cream (soy or rice based). To soften, let sit on the counter for a good 30-40 minutes.
Combine the soft ice cream and the spices in a large bowl. Mix well, taste, adjust to your liking. Then either pour it back in the original container (if it’s for yourself) or into a freezer container (if you don’t want your mother to know that you cheated). Freeze overnight, at least.
Cinnamon Orange Ice Cream: 1 tbsp orange extract, Zest of 1 orange, Juice of 1 orange, 1 tbsp cinnamon
Maple-cinnamon (1 tbspcinnamon and 1/3 cup maple)
Coriander (trust me on this—it’s great with vanilla cookies or cake) 2 tbsp coriander
Fresh strawberry or berry (really great in the summer season!) 1 cup berries and/or cut fruit
Lemon-clove: 1 tbsp lemon extract, 2 tsp clove, some lemon zest if you have it
Cranberry: ¼ cup dried cranberries, ¼ cup fresh cranberries, 2 Tbsp cherry juice concentrate
Using plain chocolate ice cream as the base, you can make chocolate-coffee (¼ cup espresso) or chocolate-whiskey (½ cup whiskey).
Use your imagination, just remember to always start with less—it’s easy to add more, but good luck taking spices out. These ice creams make great summer desserts even if you’re not trying to impress non-veg visitors. They’re quick and easy, they don’t involve baking on hot days (not a problem in San Francisco, but Sacramento in July…you’re not going to be baking cookies), and they’re beautiful served with crispy vegan cookies or ripe summer fruit.
Remember: The night before your guests arrive, stock your bathroom with Why Vegan’s, Veg Starter Kits, and a really sad poster of an animal in a slaughterhouse.