Gathering of the Tribes: Spring 2012

Got plans for the weekend, Austin? This weekend is the (fourth? fifth?) biannual Gathering of the Tribes in Austin. Twice a year, the disparate veg groups in Austin get together at Pease Park for a giant potluck.

Austin has a lot of different vegetarian and vegan organizations, some social (Vegans Rock Austin, Vegetarian Network of Austin, Progressive Vegetarians), some health-oriented (Engine 2 Potlucks, Raw Meetup), and some animal-rights (Austin Pets Alive!, Action for Animals). Not to mention lots of local vegan businesses, tweeters, and bloggers. It’s nice for everyone to have an opportunity to share a meal together and talk shop.

But listen, dear potlucker. Make an effort. Bring a yummy dish that you’re proud to share. And bring lots of it. And make it yourself. Because I can’t handle another potluck like the last one.

If you’re looking for an easy, inexpensive potluck dish, try one of these:

  • Celery, Apple, and Fennel Salad: Great if you’re trying to eat healthy, don’t have a kitchen, or want to avoid common allergens
  • Roasted Carrots: Pretty much any vegetable tastes great roasted, and it’s one of the easiest things in the world to make. If you’re a moneybags, bring roasted asparagus to impress everyone.
  • Spicy Peanut Noodle Salad with Cucumbers, Red Peppers, and Basil: Despite the long name and ingredient list, this is still pretty easy and inexpensive to make. Cucumbers and bean sprouts are two of the cheapest vegetables out there. Be sure to use sugar, not honey, to keep the dish vegan.
  • No Cook Berry Crisp: Raw and appropriate for the Engine 2 folk among us!
  • Trattoria Pasta Salad: I won’t tell if you replace the shallot with onion. Fancy, filling, and Engine 2-appropriate.
  • Banana Bread: no explanation necessary
  • Dijon Potato Salad: Martha Stewart-approved
  • Lenti Tabbouleh: I found the one tabbouleh recipe in the world that doesn’t contain parsley. (Am I the only one who thinks parsley taste like grass?) But the traditional recipe is great, too. If you like grass.
No excuses now, potluckers! I expect to be impressed.

Potlucks: A Gentle Reminder

Raffle at Gathering of the Tribes. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

Yesterday was the third biannual Gathering of the Tribes here in Austin. The aim of the event is to bring together the Austin veg community—social groups, activism groups, animal groups, the business community—for a meal and an exchange of ideas. I learned about so many great new businesses and opportunities (keep your eyes our for a new local vegan product at Wheatsville soon!) and met a lot of great people.

Chicken Fried Chickpea Cutlets adapted from the Chickpea Cutlet recipe in Veganomicon. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

I made chicken-fried chickpea cutlets using the chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon as the base. I’ll post the recipe later in the week. I also ran a raffle to raise money for Sunny Day Farms. Unfortunately, that meant I was one of the last  people to get food. And this is what was left.

My plate at Gathering of the Tribes. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

It would have been just the chips and salsas, but someone showed up late with the sushi just as I was grabbing my food.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you of the right way to do a potluck.

  • Bring something. Unless you walked in off the street, there is no excuse not to bring something.
  • Moreover, bring something you’re excited to eat. That’s probably not fruit salad (though we do have a big healthy eating community here, so bring fruit salad if it floats your boat). It’s also not chips and salsa, especially not Pace Picante. And it’s probably not the same take out dishes we all get at Wheatsville or Whole Foods all the time. Don’t get me wrong. I like to eat all of these thing. But as a vegan community, a potluck is our opportunity to be surrounded by wonderful vegan food that we didn’t have to cook, excepting your own contribution.
  • Bring enough food to feed a lot of people. If you could consume everything you bought by yourself, you haven’t brought enough. And if you’re coming as a couple, you have to bring twice as much food. You’re both eating, so you both have to contribute.
  • Don’t take huge portions or seconds before everyone has had an opportunity to get food. People bring small portion sizes so that everyone will get to try a dish. That doesn’t work if you take five mini cupcakes.
  • Help out. If it’s at someone’s house, help greet people or offer to clean up. If it’s at  a park, help greet people, volunteer to man a table, and help clean up. Potlucks are a group effort, so if you’re not helping, you’re taking a free ride.

I can hear the excuses now. I heard them in person last night. You don’t cook. You can’t afford it. No excuses. You’re an adult, you’re capable of cooking. (I’ll be more lenient for any university students who don’t have access to a kitchen. You can bring fruit salad or popcorn tofu.)

  • Learn to cook one thing really well. That’s your company/potluck dish. After you’ve made it several times, you’ll be able to do it quickly and expertly. Call it your signature dish.
  • Cornbread: this recipe is super simple (and cheap). You can get the ingredients at any grocery store. Try not to stir too much, otherwise, it’s impossible to mess up.
  • Garlic bread: again, it’s pretty hard to mess this up, and everyone loves garlic bread. It’s also a lot of food cheap.
  • Seven layer dip: It’s a step up from salsa, but still doesn’t require a stove or oven.
  • Nachos. Canned refried beans and chips are cheap. I like to add some salsa and a bit of cumin to the beans to spice them up and thin them out. Then just scoop a dollop of beans on each chip. Add some guacamole, vegan cheddar, chopped cilantro, chopped green onion, black olives, or pickled jalapenos as a garnish. Unless you use cheese, it doesn’t even need a trip through the oven.
  • Buy phyllo cups. Fill them with something. Bake. Filling ideas: bean dip, chorizo, Wayfare cheese, tofu scramble, chickpea salad, fruit pie filling, chocolate pudding, sauteed mushrooms, or nuts and chocolate.

I know there’s a lot of cooking talent in our community, and I know that everyone gets busy sometimes. But remember that these events are only as good as we make them, and I know we can make an incredible potluck.

What You Can Do For Veganism

Hey, you! Yeah, you there in your flip flops and pajamas. (Still? At this time of the day?) You in the small town or the vegan-unfriendliest city on the planet. There are lots of new vegan initiatives that need your participation.

We’ve talked a lot about the awesomeness of vegan bake sales on Lone Star Plate. About how they create community and share veganism on the nicest terms possible. The idea of small-scale community activism is taking off. Read on for what you can do to spread a little vegan love around your community.

The first new movement is the vegan bake sale shrunk down to the size of your kitchen. Or something. Gary of Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale wants you to bake or cook something tasty and vegan for your neighbor. And that’s it. Wrap it up pretty and take your casserole or cookies over to your neighbors (you’ve been meaning to meet them, right?). Tell them it was baked with vegan love. Or, at least that you made it for them, and, by the way, it’s vegan.

Gary is calling this Neighborhood Vegan Food Sharing Week. NVFSW takes place June 18 to June 25. That’s this weekend. Gary also thinks it would be neat if you bought food to your office this week. Other than needing a snappier name (veganhood? Who Are the Vegans in Your Neighborhood?), this is super easy outreach for anyone who has a kitchen and fellow human beings nearby. You can “like” the Facebook page and share in the comments what you’re making for your neighbors or coworkers.

The next initiative is Gary’s too. He’s full of awesome ideas. And, I imagine, vegan cupcakes. For this one you don’t even have to leave your house, which is great for hermits like me. Gary is calling it “Veganizing, submitting, and commenting on recipes in non-vegan food sites”. The name. I know. But stick with me here.

This is just what you think it is. Become part of a large online food community (Gary suggests All Recipes, Mixing Bowl, or Taste of Home. But any food site should work.), write about recipes or comment on other’s recipes, and just be your awesome vegan self. I especially like this because I can pretend that all those hours I’ve spent on The Kitchn, Serious Eats, and Chow now count as vegan outreach instead of procrastination. Score!

This takes a little more finesse than you might expect at first. You can’t just vegan bomb these sites. You need to actually become a member of the community, read and interact with folks. Don’t make vegan spam, folks! Gary has set up a Facebook page for this as well, and you can also read a post he wrote about this on Our Hen House.

The final idea is the easiest of them all since someone else is going to do the work. The fabulous Gabrielle Pope and Panda Cookie are starting a blog about YOU. They want to highlight all the awesome vegan outreach and animal volunteerism of ordinary people in ordinary places. And their blog has a pretty great name, too: Vegans on the Move.

From their blog:

Our theory is that no action is too small. We want to know about the every day vegan on the street who is advocating for the animals, fostering community and putting out some positive goodwill to spread the vegan word. Do you host a vegan potluck every month in Columbus, OH? We want to know. We know that vegans come in all shapes and sizes and locations and we want to present evidence that we are everywhere and that even a small action is important.

This is more or less why I write for Lone Star Plate, so I’m down with this. I know lots of folks who write about vegan food in Houston or New Orleans, convince burrito shops to expand their vegan options, and plan bake sales at the drop of a hat, all great candidates for Vegans on the Move. 

2nd Gathering of the Tribes

Last October, over a hundred vegans, vegetarians, and animal lovers gathered for a potluck in Pease Park for the first Gathering of the Tribes. The gathering was an opportunity for the many veg*n groups in Austin to share resources, stories, and recipes. It was great to see some of the diversity in Austin’s animal rights movement and to meet new people. Also, the Austin Progressive Potluckers showed up! I love that there’s a group of people who go to potlucks around town to learn more about different organizations.

It’s time to recreate that magic with an Earth Day celebration at the 2nd Gathering of the Tribes, this Saturday, April 16, at 5 PM at Peace Park, 1100 Kingsbury Street. Bring a vegan* dish that can feed 8 people and a list of ingredients. And bring all your friends, vegan or otherwise. And carpool/bike/walk, for goodness sake! It’s Earth Day!

The Facebook page is here: Gathering of the Tribes

*Vegan means no meat, fish, eggs, dairy, or honey, including things like gelatin or chicken broth.

Austin: Gluttonous Gluten-Free Feast

Sunday, November 1

Lets try our hand at expanding our grain gastronomy with a gluten-free potluck!

Gluten is the protein found in primarilyin wheat but also in rye, barley, kamut,spelt and sometimes oats – that can cause digestive distress in some and trigger Celiac disease in others. However there is a variety of gluten-free grains (quinoa, rice, amaranth, millet, teff) and gluten-free alternatives.

While you probably already have some gluten-free recipes in your repertoire or cookbooks (*cough*veganomicon*cough*) these links will point you in the right (tasty) direction….

Please bring a dish large enough for 8 that is vegan (no meat, dairy, eggs, honey, fish etc) AND gluten-free (yes that means no seitan!!) your own plates, utensils and something to drink.

RSVP and get directions here!

Vegans Rawk Austin Potluck

Sunday, October 18

Everyone seems to enjoy the food at all the raw places in town but no-one enjoys the high co$t$- so lets have a raw potluck where you can have as much as you want!

Raw food is either uncooked or heated no more than 115 degrees so as to hypothetically preserve enzymes and nutrients.

Please bring a raw vegan (no raw milk,cheese, eggs,honey, fish etc.) dish large enough for 8, plates utensils and a hungry tummy.

Feel free to bring either something simple like fruit or a salad or if your feeling more adventurous there is a slew of great sites and youtube videos with recipes. Here are some to get you on your way, your sure to find something you’ll want to whip up.

RSVP and get directions here!

Austin: VRA Picnic – The Music Man

Vegans, oh we got vegans,
Right here in River City!
With a capital “V”
That rhymes with “P”
And that stands for Potluck!

Come on out and enjoy the classic musical The Music Man along with some dandy folks and food this Friday night.

Bring a vegan dish large enough for 8, a blanket, drinks, and plates/utensils. We’ll convene on the hill facing the Zilker Hillside theatre, which is in Zilker Park across from Barton Springs.

Admission to the play is FREE but parking in Zilker will costs $3.00 per car – so carpool for goodness sake!

Potluck begins at 7:30pm and musical begins at 8:30, for those who want to stay around and watch.

RSVP here.