Tonight my Georgia (the state)-native mother-in-law helped me create a delicious vegan southern feast for dinner. Sorry we forgot to take pictures! I made this collage of the staples we used, which brought back memories for my MIL and got my preschooler excited about trying some new foods.
Dish #1: Pan-fried okra and potatoes. I'd never bought okra before yesterday. Honestly I'm not a big fan of the gooey vegetable. But my MIL loves it and I wanted to surprise her. I learned that, when choosing fresh okra from the store, smaller is usually better, and firm is better than flimsy. But they should not be too hard either. I think I did ok. We sliced each thin (they're very pretty once sliced, like little stars) and cubed a few potatoes into tiny pieces. I tossed them both in a mixture of flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper. Then pan-fried them in canola oil. Yum.
Dish #2: Collard greens with "bacon." Traditional southern collards almost always call for a ham hock or bacon. Or both. I pan fried some fakin bacon and used that in simple braised fresh collards. I was surprised at how yummy they were. They were my son's favorite. There's nothing like watching a 3-year-old stuff his face with cooked leafy green vegetables.
Dish #3: Blackeyed peas with "sausage." Ok have you ever tried soy chorizo? The stuff is unbelievable. And the recipe is laughably simple: 2 cans of rinsed, drained blackeyed peas, and 1 tube of soy chorizo (1/2 a package). (I used the Trader Joes brand.) Heat, stir, serve. Tastes like a complicated dish slaved over for hours.
Dish #4: Quinoa pilaf. Ok, NOT traditional southern, but I wanted to include a healthy grain. We pretended it was grits, but of course quinoa is a much better source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Dish #5: Sliced cucumbers and tomatoes in vinegar and dill. Southern, I'm not sure... but what American vegetable garden is without cukes and tomatoes? I watered down the vinegar and threw on some dried dill.
It's fun to pick a food theme and run with it. And in this day and age, there's almost nothing you can't veganize yet still maintain an authentic look and flavor.