Sunday, June 5, 2011

Vegan Georgia on the Road: Mississippi Trip Part 1

Hi everyone!  It's been a while.  I went on vacation and then ended up somehow missing out on May entirely, it seems.  I am always the kind of person who needs a vacation after the vacation, and this time was no different.  We had such a great time on our visit down south, and we got to spend a ton of time with friends and family, but by the time we got back to Massachusetts, I was pooped!  Also, when we got home, spring was in full swing, and my allergies knocked me out.  I'm not normally such a sickly person, but I guess the freakish weather (from the crazy snow over the winter, to the pollen explosion, to tornadoes last week) is affecting me this year.  The allergies turned into bronchitis and I just didn't feel like thinking or talking about food for quite a while.  But I'm back now, and I think I'm ready to return from hiatus for at least a little while.  I am going to be working with Worcester Shakespeare Company again this year, and that makes my summer a lot busier.  I love it, but the time commitment doesn't leave me time for much else!

One of the best things about the trip to visit my family was helping my mom learn about being vegan.  Before we even went home from the airport, we visited a number of grocery stores to stock up and go over the basics.  It was great!  I was also very pleasantly surprised to note that while the health food store in Jackson, Mississippi, is stocked as well as could be expected, the "regular" grocery store has a great deal of vegan-friendly food (like dairy substitutes) as well.  In fact, it's better than my local non-health food store, because there are vegan cheeses available!  So she could potentially have one-stop shopping, which is an advantage over what I have here in Worcester.  It's also good, since she actually lives about 1.5 hours away from Jackson.  She has been shopping there anyway though, just because the prices and selection is so much better, and she's down there for work fairly often.

The first night, my mom requested that I make a dish I had made when she and I met for a weekend trip to St. Simon's Island, Georgia, when I had just been vegan for a few months. We stayed in a small vacation cottage, and bought groceries and made our own food, which is what I generally like to do for longer trips.  We didn't have pantry items though, so I had to buy everything we were going to need, which calls for simplicity in the recipe choice.  I made bean tacos, and it turns out my mom has been talking about them to my stepdad ever since, so they wanted me to reprise that recipe for them at home.  I changed it up a little, since I could, and it was even better than it had been the first time I made it.

Three Bean Chili Tacos        

Corn tortillas

Chili filling:
One onion, diced
One red bell pepper, diced
One green bell pepper, diced
Two cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
One can pinto beans
One can black beans
One can red kidney beans
1/2 cup TVP (optional)
Chile powder, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, & salt to taste

Shredded green cabbage
Diced tomato
Fresh cilantro, chopped
                                                                                  Vegan cheese (optional)

Begin by preparing chili filling.  Saute onion & pepper in cooking spray or water over medium heat.

I may teaching my mom something about cooking vegan, but she still has the superior knife skills.  Check out that dice!

In a separate stock pot, add tomatoes and beans with liquid from cans.  Bring to a simmer. Add spices, and onion/pepper mixture.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Add TVP and cover to rehydrate.  

In the meantime, heat tortillas according to package directions, and prepare toppings. When TVP is fully rehydrated (at least five minutes), build tacos as desired, using a slotted spoon for the chili.

It's been quite a while since I wrote down a recipe, so I apologize if I missed anything.  I'm much more of a suggester than a demander when it comes to recipes anyway, so feel free to adjust and adapt as you wish.

As you can see, I've named this post "Part 1."  There is plenty more to tell about my trip, so stay tuned!  I've set a goal to finish recapping my Mississippi/Louisiana adventure by the end of the week.  I hope you all had a wonderful month of May, and I'm glad to be back with you for June!

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