So at 10 a.m. this morning my home was filled with five of the most beautiful, open and spirited people that I’ve ever met, all set to make some delectable, vegan soul food. There was Tourette, who treated her friend Aya to the class as a birthday present, and Lauren who journeyed with her boyfriend Jonathan from Baltimore by way of New York, and Charlene, a lovely woman whom I met through my work with the Eat Smart Program of the Vegetarian Society of DC, all full of energy and big appetites.
I started with the affirmation, “Perfect health is my divine right and responsibility” and explained that such an affirmation implies that the Creator wants us to be healthy and that being healthy, in large part, has to do with personal choices that make longevity possible. Eating a diet that is plant based is one such choice that not only benefits our own health but also sustains the planet and honors the existence of other living creatures. After everyone took a moment to share their mantras or why they came to the lesson and what they hoped to gain from it, we washed our hands and began cooking.
First on the menu and agenda were Vita’s Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes. Everyone participated by either peeling and slicing potatoes, zesting lemons, squeezing oranges and other tasks related to the glaze. Next we made Vita’s Barbecue Tofu by first mixing a flavorful marinade with liquid aminos and garlic, onion and ginger powders, then chopping and marinating the tofu, frying the chunks, and, finally, simmering them in a bottle of Annie’s Original barbecue sauce which we doctored with maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Together we also chopped bunches of kale and lots and lots of fresh garlic which we cooked in olive oil, liquid aminos, agave nectar and crushed pepper. Then, we made vegan mac and cheese that was so quick and easy my nine year-old daughter could have made it. It was literally a matter of boiling the pasta and then putting all of the ingredients for the sauce in a blender, pushing the button, pouring the mixture over the cooked pasta and cooking until the sauce thickened, which took less than 15 minutes. And last on the list was Vita’s Vegan Cornbread which we baked in a cast-iron skillet like my grandmamma used to do and which turned out to be the lightest and fluffiest cornbread ever. Tourette and Aya would not divulge how they got it to be so light. And I’m puzzled as to what made it so bitter. . . I think we forgot the raw sugar in the recipe and maybe added some extra something else. Oh well, it’ll be even better next time.
After almost two and a half hours of cooking, the meal was done, we took lots of pictures and fellowshipped over a fabulous tasting, yet deliciously healthy soul food meal. Fifteen minutes into the fellowship, I had to rush out to take my daughter to her basketball game and encouraged the students to stay and continue on and to lock up behind themselves. So off to the game my daughters and I went, and when we returned, I was pleasantly surprised by a clean dining room and kitchen. Those five beautiful souls had washed all of the dishes. That kind of generosity is priceless and I count it a real blessing!!!
Tomorrow, I have plans to visit Karma Kitchen, a pay-it-forward restaurant housed in the Polo India restaurant near DuPont Circle where Aya is a volunteer and organizer.
All and all, it was a very blessed day!