Vegetable Geeks: My Comfort Food

Nine days ago, a member of my family died. It was my 18 year old cat. I knew the day would come sooner than I was ready. It always does. Memories of my feline, Yoyo, stretch all the way back to the 9 year old version of me. I can hardly remember life before her.

Memories of growing up are filled with the smells of my mother’s cooking and baking, napping in the sunbeams with my kitty and reading fantasy books with my calico cat on my lap. The spring and fall months found my family foraging for berries and mushrooms. My mother would prepare and freeze seemingly hundreds of pies for the winter months and she would also can homemade pickles and applesauce. My mother’s cooking style was along the lines of midwestern country fare. Our family was the meat and potatoes type, but always with a side of vegetables.

I never expressed much interest in cooking when I was young even though my mother had a wealth of knowledge. I feel as though I had been waiting to carve out my own path in life. Her baking still inspires and influences my tastes now, but I’ve added my own twist. I substitute eggs and milk with applesauce, maple syrup, and/or bananas.

My family had a tradition of holiday feasts which always included green bean casserole and broccoli casserole. The broccoli one being my family’s most favorite. Now that I live far away from the home front, I rarely celebrate holidays with my family. Since I have a very different diet now, my idea of a feast has completely changed from what I grew up on. For nostalgia’s sake and my belly, I have recreated my mom’s broccoli casserole dish. I chose to use all fresh ingredients and added garlic to the mix.
So here’s to the memory of lost moments in time and friends. Enjoy.


First make the cream of mushroom soup:

3/4 lbs. mushrooms
1/2 sm onion
2 Tbs Earth Balance buttery sticks
3 Tbs spelt flour (any type will do)
1 C water
2 garlic cloves
3 pinches thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the margarine for a few minutes then add mushrooms and spices. Cook until onions are tender. Add water and flour. Stir until flour dissolves. Simmer over med-low heat until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Add more flour if it is too runny.


1/4 stick Earth Balance buttery sticks
1 chopped onion
2-3 broccoli heads and stems, chopped
1/2 of the small container of Happy Cow Chedda’ Cheese from Fairgrounds Coffeehouse*
1 C cooked rice
2 garlic cloves
cream of mushroom soup
croutons (I used the kind from the New Pioneer Food Co-op’s bakery)

Melt margarine and saute onion until translucent. Simmer a few minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients. Cook until broccoli is tender. Put into a -1-2 qt casserole dish and place croutons on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

*If you want to make your own vegan cheese, try this recipe:


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