I’m Susan, a mostly (wimpy) vegetarian, and I live just north of San Francisco. After three brief years of wedded bliss filled with mustard-garlic-crusted pork roasts, hoisin-glazed ribs, and lamb stew, I broke the news to my new husband, Myles: I wanted to move towards a plant-based diet.
Myles’ response was to stock up on T-bones, pork chops, and rib-eyes. He had incisors for a reason, he said.
In the beginning of our mixed marriage experiment, he initially accepted my vegetarian meals as a side to his meat, but his enthusiasm soon flagged. He began to neigh and paw at the floor with his foot when he spied farro simmering on the stove. Horse food, he called it. So I earnestly launched into cooking two different dinners involving more pots and pans than anyone should even own. Soon my zeal faded. It didn’t take long for his meal to devolve into a broiled steak or cheeseburger and a salad.
We needed a better solution.
Drawing on my culinary school training at Tante Marie Cooking School in San Francisco, I looked for healthy ways to pump up the flavors of my vegetarian fare. I roasted tomatoes, carrots, and squash until they caramelized in their own sugars. I simmered leeks in a splash of olive oil until they turned a crispy brown, and toasted pumpkin seeds with warm spices. I began storing these flavor potions in the freezer or refrigerator along with a stash of cooked grains or legumes for a quick healthy weeknight dinner. Pretty soon, Myles piled more of my vegetarian “horse food” alongside his meat. I watched as he went back for seconds. It took over two years from the time I broke the news to him, but we were finally eating roughly the same meal together again.
My blog shares vegetarian recipes and how to adjust them for the omnivores at the table, whether you’re in a mixed marriage or cooking for a mixed family. Along the way, I share pantry foods to bridge vegetarian and omnivore dinners and lessons I’ve learned for uniting a divided kitchen.
Over the past three years, I’ve entered recipes in contests on Food 52 and Whole Foods Market Cooking, and have won a few (Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Chimichurri and Poblano Creme Fraiche, Rosemary Ciabatta with Stout Beer, Orange Ricotta Pillows with Lillet Kumquat Compote, Crispy Delicata Rings with Currant, Fennel and Apple Relish, and Farmhouse Harvest Soup). I’ve taught cooking classes focused on local produce and grains, written for the food section of online magazine Ask Miss A and for Our Community Table. In 2013, I began authoring a column for The Weiser Kitchen called “Steak and Kale,” and will begin writing a column around the Christmas holidays on Food52 focused on vegetarian main dishes.
I’m now hard at work on a proposal for a cookbook focused on meals for the mixed marriage (or family) of vegetarians and omnivores and was recently signed by The Lisa Ekus Group for representation. My aim is to produce a cookbook that can be a true resource for the growing number of mixed marriages and families.