Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vegan Craft Brunch

Sleeping only briefly, I woke up at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday and rushed to Trader Joe's, which entailed a total of an hour drive. I was hosting a craft brunch at my house, which was supposed to start at 12:30 p.m.

A few friends and I are hoping to start a craft brunch custom in which either every few weeks or once a month a different person will host a craft brunch. So far, the host prepares food and the guests theoretically chip in to cover the expense of the ingredients. I was hosting the fourth craft brunch, although a huge snow storm hit the DC area and essentially buried the first one.

Pat went to the grocery with me and brought some special ingredients from his house like Tapioca flour. He'd volunteered to make crepes.

Once home, I ran around the house in a cleaning and cooking frenzy. Although disorganized, I at least was focused on my goal of preparing for the brunch. Finally settling into the kitchen, Pat and I chopped some potatoes, onions, and orange pepper. I tossed them in olive oil and spiced them with garlic, basil, oregano, chili, and paprika. Then, I shoved them into the oven.
I started making smoked almond gravy with the recipe from Vegan Brunch. I made rosemary drop biscuits as a complement. I was sticking the biscuits into the oven to join the potatoes when three guests arrived together. 12:15 p.m. Early. People usually show up late to the craft brunches and I was counting on that cushion of time. These guests were coming to their first craft brunch, though, so I was happy to see the brunch expanding and glad that Pat and I weren't just fixing a bunch of food for ourselves.

The three people moved into the kitchen, joking around. I maneuvered around them to make a berry sauce for the crepes. Pat calmly stood near the sink mixing the ingredients for crepes.

My housemates Dave and Meredith came out of their room. She was giving him a ride to work a few miles away. Seeing her, though, seemed to lure people out of the kitchen.

I started slicing mock sausage. I sprinkled a few spice mixes from Penzey's on top of the sausage slices, wanting speed and not finding the exact spice I wanted. I fried up the sausages and Meredith returned. A few more people arrived. The biscuits were ready and I grabbed them from the oven and dropped them on to a big plate.

I had already placed a few kinds of syrup on the table and put my berry sauce in a bowl with a spoon. I started making sweet rolls with cinnamon and prepared a powdered sugar-based topping.

My housemate Zack appeared with a few friends and groceries in hand. They ran into the kitchen and started chopping with intensity. Zack makes a flavorful tofu scramble. He put the tofu in the wok and added peppers, onion, black beans as well as a variety of spices. The food was mostly done, although Pat kept making fresh crepes. I ate one filled with chocolate, which tasted particularly delicious with the berry sauce. I was happy with the depth of flavor in the almond gravy and definitely plan to make it again. Maddy, Zack's bandmate and close friend, poured some of the berry sauce on a sweet roll.

Ultimately, sixteen people came. Typically, the craft brunches are attended mostly by the people who live in the host house, so it was a good turnout.

When I finally turned away from the kitchen and started crafting, I enjoyed relaxing and seeing what everyone was making. People threw themselves into a variety of projects. A few people painted; a few people made comics; a few people drew; and one person decorated a Day-of-the Dead skull. The day was a perfect Spring day with a bright blue sky and temperatures in the low 70s. Meanwhile, I knitted a giant, thick scarf. Meredith sat next to me knitting the sleeve to a sweater. One girl named Holli brought a spinning wheel and made yarn. Zack drew a crowd concocting soap in the kitchen. The bubbling pans looked like nothing you'd want to put on your body.

Finally, the craft brunch ended. As people left, I mentioned that no one can eat a tablespoon of cinnamon, which, in that quantity, apparently dries out your mouth and coats your tongue. Meredith and my friend Sarah took it as a food challenge, attempting to debunk a myth. It's not a myth. No one can eat a tablespoon of cinnamon.

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