Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friends Help Friends Help Friends :)

This past week I got an "I need help!!" email from my co-worker friend. She attends a weekly gathering of woman and this week was her turn to cook the main dish. But the trouble was that one of the ladies had very recently announced that she can no longer eat soy or dairy. The friend said "oh it's fine. I'll just bring my own dish". My friend wanted very much to make something that everyone could enjoy. I have been in the same position of offering to bring my own meal and being perfectly happy to do so. But when a friend goes out of their way to include you I know how humbled and thankful you feel. I told her that we would come up with the perfect recipe.

I gave her a couple of cookbooks and re-grouped with her a couple of days later. I asked if anything jumped out at her. She said it hadn't and I could tell she felt a bit overwhelmed. I asked if she would like me to pick a recipe for her. She said yes but her face said "oh please don't let it be too weird and freakish". So, I paused, thought and then asked what she would have made for this mid-week event if there were no restrictions. She responded "Shepard's pie". And with that I knew we had a meal she could be comfortable with and would please her entire group of friends.

She was initially hesitant that we could make a great tasting Shepard's pie with no butter or milk in the potatoes. She mentioned how she always uses cream style corn and was worried about a work around for that. But as we talked I could see her getting excited. When I came back from the store with soy free, dairy free almond milk and Earth Balance "butter" she immediately ran to the kitchen to toast a bagel and try out the butter. It was so good she licked the knife!  That night she made a trial run of mashed potatoes and told me how perfectly they fluffed up. It was so great to see her go from completely paralyzed at the notion of trying this to excited, on board and experimenting.

We had learned from her friend that a lot of canned goods have preservatives that contain soy. We didn't feel comfortable with a couple of unrecognizable ingredients on the back of the can of creamed corn and once again I could see her begin to deflate a bit. Thirty seconds and one Google search later we had a quick, easy recipe for homemade cream style corn that would incorporate her already purchased Earth Balance and almond milk. And just like that she was back in the game. The night of the get together I got a text declaring "best cream style corn everrrrr!!"

This is what I love. I helped a friend make a friend feel completely included and loved. I helped my friend learn that eliminating some dairy (aka cow's puss) wasn't scary or weird   The best part is that I learned a ton. Soybeans are a plant product so they are on the list of things I eat. I had no idea of the places that soy lurks... gravy mixes, canned foods, almond milk, spice mixes etc.

I was so inspired I had to try out that creamed corn. Here is the link Homemade Vegan Cream Style Corn to the recipe and here is the final beautiful product!


  1. Great post Jen! What did you use for the meat part of the shepherd's pie recipe? I make mine with mashed black beans and my girls prefer it over meat. :)

    1. Lisa, I believe she used ground beef. The meat part of this was not my forte! I do know she wanted to use a gravy mix but was worried about lurking soy so just used regular spices. I LOVE the idea of using beans ;)