I have lots of love for Happy Herbivore. I can’t remember when or how I first stumbled across Lindsay Nixon’s blog, but I have been drooling over and cooking from it ever since. The omni family has loved most of her goodies, too. I have a well worn copy of The Happy Herbivore Cookbook and received my copy of Everyday Happy Herbivore a couple of weeks ago. I’m digging it, too.
When Lindsay put out a call for stops on her blog tour, I jumped at the chance to pick her brain a little.
Me: You’ve mentioned Charleston in both of your books. How much did the Lowcountry inspire your cooking? Were you introduced to many new ingredients or techniques?
Lindsay: I lived in Charleston, SC for four years to attend the College of Charleston (c/o 2004). My husband is a graduate of The Citadel (Hotel, 2000) and he was also raised in Summerville, South Carolina.
My experience with Southern food and cooking was none before I moved to Charleston. I’d never had or heard of grits or collard greens or she crab soup… so I was constantly dazzled by all these new ingredients and foods when I lived there. Even after we left, my husband was always after me to make low country staples he grew up with — and when we switched to a vegan diet, he insisted I learn how to recreate all these dishes that were traditions in his family and had been staples in our diets. (That’s how they ended up in my cookbooks!)
I have a soft spot for Low Country cuisine — and cajun, too. They’re magnificent and really understand the concept of sticking to the basics, using hot spices and fresh, local foods to make something amazing.
Was it difficult it find a variety of vegan eats when dining out?
In Charleston? No. I was actually pleasantly surprised when we went back to visit last November (2010). I contacted the Charleston Vegetarian Group on Facebook before I went for some restaurant recommendations, but some of our friends wanted to go to other places, and I admit I was worried I’d be limited to salads. Boy was I wrong! Every restaurant we went to had something on the menu that was already vegan (not necessarily identified as such — but no dairy, meat, etc) or something that could be made vegan if we left off cheese. I thought FOR SURE when Scott’s friends made us go to Wild Wings I’d starve and I actually had a really delicious meal there!
In Everyday Happy Herbivore, most of the items can be on the table in 30 minutes or less. Are there any other quick cooking tips that work for you?
I can’t stress the importance of a well stocked pantry and spice rack — that is the secret to fast cooking.
We’ve all had kitchen failures. My most recent involved misreading a recipe and adding 1/2 cup of agave nectar instead of 1/s TBS to bread. What was your most memorable kitchen fail?
I once turned my blender on without the top on. Green smoothie EVERYWHERE. Seitan also blew up once and splattered on the wall and ceiling. That was awesome.
The holidays are upon us and omnivore family members sometimes have low expectations of the vegan’s contribution to the family meal. Should herbies stick with appetizers, entrees, sides, or desserts? What knockout recipes do you recommend? Desserts have won over my family
Desserts are always a safe bet — but I try NOT to bring a vegetable side or a soup because I want to dispel the notion that we only eat the side dish or vegetables only compliment meat. I like to show off how beans and vegetables ARE the meal and not just a side. BUT it’s important to do whats right for your situation — we all know our family and friends pretty well and that can help us decide what to bring. When in doubt, Cake.
While cake helped bring my family on to the herbie train, burgers and fries keep them coming back time and again. Lindsay shared one of her burger recipes from EHH. Not only is it quick and easy, it’s pretty cheap, too. This would make a great quick lunch or dinner on a crazy night.
Quick Burgers | makes 4
I developed these burgers in a hotel room: they’re quick, easy and require very few ingredients. (In fact, except for the beans and a seasoning packet, I sourced all the ingredients from the complimentary “breakfast bar”). I make these burgers any time I need a super fast meal or I’m really low on ingredients.
15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tsp onion powder (granulated)
1 tsp garlic powder (granulated)
1/3 c instant oats
Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside. In a mixing bowl, mash black beans with a fork until mostly pureed but still some half beans and bean parts are left. Stir in condiments and spices until well combined. Then mix in oats. Divide into 4 equal portions and shape into thin patties with your hands. Bake for 7 minutes, carefully flip over and bake for another 7 minutes, or until crusty on the outside. Slap into a bun with extra condiments and eat!
Chef’s note: If you only have rolled oats, chop them up in a food processor or blender so they are smaller and more like instant oats. Rolled oats left whole tend to make the burgers fall apart.
Per Burger: 109 Calories, 0.5g Fat, 17.6g Carbohydrates, 3g Fiber, 2.2g Sugars, 5g Protein
Thanks again, Lindsay for the inspiration, tips, and fantastic food. Go Cougars!