Tuesday, October 21, 2014

From field to fork: Big birthday? Family tries vegan

Although vegans do not eat anything derived from animals — including eggs and dairy — there are more appetizing options than one might expect. BigStock photo

May 10, 2011 |

Our family gathered in our eldest son’s house in Los Angeles this past week to celebrate a significant birthday of the paterfamilias. (That would be me.)

Where to eat? The question was especially vivid because our son and his fiancée have no dining table in the short-sale house they acquired recently. Its restoration, in progress, would be worthy of a public TV series, but we’ll put that aside.

So many wonderful restaurants in Los Angeles, yet so many people in our gene pool that lean vegetarian. Even our middle son, Brian, a towering, fit fellow who coaches the UC San Diego rugby team, is a vegetarian, for goodness’ sake.

Ever considerate, the birthday boy opted for Café Gratitude, a vegan restaurant within walking distance of my son’s place. Perhaps I could glean useful information for the non-vegan readers of “Field to Fork.” That wouldn’t happen at Morton’s, the famous steakhouse where a wedge of iceberg lettuce drenched in a creamy dressing, or a baked potato the size of a football, are the closest things to produce.

Café Gratitude is a school of transformation disguised as a restaurant, says its website. “We serve only the best food on the planet in its most natural and delicious forms. Our business practice is founded in the transformative power of love and acknowledgement.”

With eight locations, its message must be appealing.

Well, did I get transformed? Sort of.

Vegans eschew meat, dairy products, eggs, and fish — anything derived from animals. It’s vegetarianism taken a step further, to my layman’s eyes. I understand that honey, produced by bees, might not make the acceptable list! Raw is valued, and at Café Gratitude much of the menu is indeed raw. The cooking that is done is not at high temperatures.

Our offspring have often said that meals should begin with dessert, and I believe this column is an occasion to do just that, because the desserts were the highlight in my eyes. Who would have thought that you could make a delicious “cheesecake” without cheese? Diane’s cheesecake, from a recipe that won a blue ribbon at the Ohio State Fair years ago, sets a high standard. (Those Ohioans know their cheescakes.)

A lemon cashew cheesecake, vegan style, relies on soaked raw cashews, almond milk and coconut butter to create a creamy, flavorful texture that absolutely works. We passed six vegan desserts — some featuring chocolate, others in the cheesecake mode — and we all gave thumbs up.

However, they’re quite intricate, use a lot of products that aren’t at all from local fields, so you won’t find a recipe here. Visit their Café Gratitude website, http://www.cafegratitude.com, to order a cookbook.

Entrees were a mixed bag. My raw enchilada was no match for the enchiladas I had in Todos Santos several years back, with a stuffing that included dried fruit and used their local queso. Raw mini-pizzas? Not for me.

But I’m now on a slippery slope into a restaurant review, which is not my purpose. I just want to extract approaches to our local produce that are beyond our traditional methods of preparation. That’s right – something new! This is, after all, California.

Where vegan as I experienced it intersects wonderfully with our abundant local produce is in the area of appetizers and side dishes.

On a related note, in September the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the results of a comprehensive nationwide behavioral study of fruit and vegetable consumption. Given the proliferation of farmers markets, widespread product innovations like salad in a bag, and all the media attention, surely Americans are eating more fruits and vegetables, right?

Well, no. Americans haven’t budged in 10 years on that score. We as a people eat about half the produce we should.

One of my students at UCD gave a presentation on vegetarianism this spring — he’s from India — and his logic and passion were so compelling, two students in the class told me a week later than they’d become vegetarians.

I love the cliché, “It’s all good.” Our country doesn’t have a national cuisine. People routinely eat Chinese, sushi, pizza, Mediterranean salads and hot dogs in the same week. Throw vegan in the mix one night a week and you’re just more American than you were before.

— Dan Kennedy, a Davis resident, has a long history with the bounty of gardens and small farms. Reach him at kennedynow@yahoo.com.

The recipes

Here’s a raw offering from Café Gratitude that capitalizes on the stellar produce available in Davis right now. You might go easy on the cayenne pepper and chopped ginger at first.

Marinated veggies

The ingredients:

Grate or dice 4 cups of raw carrot, celery, radish, zucchini and fennel bulb. Or the recipe encourages substitution with the likes of cauliflower and celery root.


3 tablespoons chopped cilantro with stems

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped ginger

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoons Nama Shoyu (an unpasteurized soy sauce)*

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

*The Café venerates creativity, so ordinary soy sauce would be in the spirit of things if it’s what you have.

Putting it together:

Pour the marinade over the grated vegetables, mix and marinate for at least one hour.

Peppery Avocado Caesar Dressing

There’s no finer time for greens in Yolo County than spring. Many adults prefer salad as a meal, but a vinaigrette doesn’t create enough satisfaction. Here’s a salad dressing that’s fuller; it’s best suited to romaine or other more substantial types of lettuce. Perhaps add the black pepper in stages, tasting along the way until you hit the right level.

The ingredients:

1 cup avocado

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Putting it together:

Run it all through a blender until smooth and creamy.





So much more than a cute baby store

By Bob Schultz | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Suspected arson fires worry neighbors, firefighters

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Winters homicide case enters jury-selection phase

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

Pets of the week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

Fill the Boot for the hungry

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Existing home sales rise in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Democrats love seeing minimum wage on the ballot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Yolo Knitters Guild plans fall meetings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Local farm products found at hospital market

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Tax tips offered for sole proprietors

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Apply now for community mediation training

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Paws for Thought: Pets for Vets: matches made in heaven

By Evelyn Dale | From Page: A3 | Gallery

‘Tokyo Kill’ author will visit bookstore

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Sierra Club gathers for morning walks

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

DPNS has play group, preschool openings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

First-time home buyers get free advice

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Psychiatric clinic hosts open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Beer dinner set on Co-op patio

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Walkin’ the Dawg through the park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Essay contest winners will be honored Tuesday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Library hosts after-hours teen movie nights

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Forum eyes impacts of raising the local minimum wage

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

NAMI-Yolo family support group meets Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

To save the birds, look to the fish

By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Birding field trip planned Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery



Ready to go, whatever happens

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

Where there’s a will …

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

U.N. steps up to lead Ebola response

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

John Cole cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

These three are the best

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Sunder has bold vision

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Archer, Nolan are my picks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

She’s innovative, passionate

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

An accidental fan becomes a baseball devotee

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8



Devil defense regresses in football loss

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1

UCD’s Wegener is the engine that drives the train

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Villegas wonderstrike powers Devils

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS golfers take the title

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Sports briefs: Top-end tennis talent helps DHS girls grab a win

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Junior Blue Devils: Regular slate ends with 2 Davis teams playoff bound

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

After running the gridiron gauntlet, can UCD regroup?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery





Stories on Stage Davis presents tales by Lescroart, Montieth

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery





Peggy Belenis Swisher

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



Comics: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

Comics: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7