Anyway, in addition to being the only vegan restaurant in town, Country Life was also very child-friendly. So, being vegans with three young children, we went there a lot. We got to know the managers pretty well and it got to be kind of like going to their house for dinner, except that we had to pay. Our children were never the kind that would be happy with a few bites from my plate. They were all hearty eaters who required full portions of food. They loved going to Country Life with its huge, comfortable room, fireplace and attached store, and where they could order anything on the menu. And they enjoyed the food. I usually ordered the salad bar — a wonderland of fresh salad ingredients with extras like chickpeas, olives and vegan potato salad.
Since the staff were not really professional restaurant people, this was not the sort of place you would go if you were in a hurry. Once we waited so long for our food, and the order was so confused, that they gave us the meal for free. We were quite comfortable with the pace and we liked going there. And even though they were all obviously "working in God's service," they never suggested we actually read the literature on the table, or pressed their religion on us.
leisurely meal together. I mean, we could hang out, have conversation, enjoy each others company. Right? Well, I'll spare you the gory details, but I wasn't sure we'd be welcome again at Country Life after that night. But they were very gracious and understanding, of course, and we continued our visits there until the restaurant closed. (I can assure you we never returned there with my parents.)
We took a series of cooking classes at the restaurant and learned how to make tofu and other stuff and bought a couple of cookbooks. "Ten Talents" by John and Rosalie Hurd is a classic Seventh Day Adventist cookbook that has some weird and interesting recipes. We also have a "Country Life" cookbook, which brings me to the subject of this post. I've decided to revisit some of the old recipes I used to make. Some of the food seemed really good to me back then and I want to see if it still has appeal. I remember making garbanzo cheese and thinking it was so delicious, so I started with that. It isn't hard to make, but takes several days to sprout the beans. And the final step of cooking requires constant stirring for 25 minutes. It didn't seem as great this time around. But the process still fascinates me and the cheese is interesting and slice-able. Actually, I don't know why they called it "cheese." It's more like a garbanzo loaf. Today I wrapped some slices in a burrito with avocado and shredded lettuce and it tasted pretty good. Will I make it again? Maybe; it's strange, but it has a certain something that I find very compelling.
I fried a few slices in a tablespoon of oil until they were browned and crispy, and they were delicious. I gave some to my son, who had been grossed out by the stuff while I was cooking it, and he said it was really good.
Soak 1 cup dry garbanzos for 24 hours. Sprout for 48 hours. (To sprout, drain the beans and place them in a glass jar or ceramic bowl. Rinse and drain them twice a day. It helps to use beans that are not too old.)
Whiz in blender or food processor until smooth (really smooth):
- the soaked sprouted garbanzos
- 1/2 cup brazil or other nuts
- 1-1/4 teasp. onion powder
- 1-1/2 teasp. salt
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup yeast flakes (you know, nutritional yeast)
- 1/2 cup jarred pimentos
- 1/8 teasp. garlic powder
- caraway or celery seed (optional)
Update: Oh no. I'm addicted to this stuff just like I used to be. Especially the fried version.