This summer, Little Village magazine is sitting down for family dinner. Through the lenses of five unique families, we’re exploring the benefits (and challenges) that emerge when we eat together. We’re considering modern interpretations of the word “family,” and we’re documenting — of course — the delicious foods families are cooking up.
Cadry Nelson’s dinner table is not centered in the middle of her dining room. Instead it’s pushed to one side, so the head of the table meets a window where natural light comes in. Nelson, the writer behind the vegan blog Cadry’s Kitchen, captures photos of her recipes, plated and garnished, on this end of the table, sometimes standing on its sturdy top to peer down through her camera.
“I love the light in this window,” says Nelson. “I’ve tried a lot of places in the house, but this is my go-to spot.”
Nelson and her husband, David Busch, eat dinner together in their Iowa City-area home nearly every night. Tonight Nelson is cooking straight from her blog’s archive, assembling a vegan “cheese” board topped with artisan cashew cheese, blackberries and Castelvetrano olives simmered in lemon and garlic, followed by the main course — cashew cream-filled polenta rounds stacked with butternut squash, alongside a hearty serving of collard greens.
Nelson and Busch are both vegan. They became vegetarian and later vegan as a couple cohabiting and acting in Los Angeles, where Busch appeared in notable 1990s-era films and television shows. His claim to fame, he says, is the role he played in Clueless: “I’m the guy that runs up and tries to kiss Alicia Silverstone, and she goes, ‘Ugh, get off of me! As if!’”
In 2009, Nelson created Cadry’s Kitchen, and the vegan couple returned to Iowa, their home state. Growing up, Nelson wrote a food column for her high school newspaper in Des Moines, where the owner of her then-favorite restaurant, Tasty Tacos, displayed her written review.
“It’s kind of funny looking back,” says Nelson. “I was always going to write about food in one way or another.” Today, Nelson’s blog receives over sixty thousand visitors a month, and her recent post about nutritional yeast, she says, is going viral.
Busch, who works as a videographer, travels frequently for work; Nelson often accompanies him. When they travel to larger cities like Portland and New York, Nelson and Busch look forward to checking out new vegan restaurants (Nelson’s collard greens recipe was inspired by a stop in North Carolina).
Frequent jet-setting is possible for Nelson and Busch largely because they have chosen not to have children. Marriage without children is on the rise — nearly double the percentage in 1992, according to a study by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research.
“We just never really wanted [children],” says Busch. “It seems like this is a time in society where it’s not mainstream by any means, but it’s becoming more of an accepted thing. Kind of like veganism.”
For tonight’s dessert, Nelson tops grilled bananas with a rich, cashew-based vanilla ice cream and a chocolate peanut butter drizzle — proof that going vegan can be decidedly decadent.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 222.