I promise this blog isn’t going to be all about food. I’m not qualified to write about food expertise, nor am I interested enough. But I’m pretty proud of my latest food-related accomplishment, so I’m going to brag about it a bit. Two of my husband’s cousins live relatively close to us and yet, in spite of that, we have never visited with them. It’s something I bug hubby about on and off as, coming from a big, chaotic and yet close-knit family, I like to keep in touch with family. My husband claims it’s just another one of my “collections.” (He also accuses me of trying to collect rooms, just because when we were house-hunting, I insisted whatever we bought had to have at least 4 rooms and got ridiculously over-excited about one we considered that had 7. Seven bedrooms…. imagine!) I digress. At any rate, we finally got around to inviting the cousins over for a visit. As it turns out, one of the cousins is a vegan. Begin panic mode! What the heck were we going to feed her? Now, I’m no Martha Stewart, happy hostess. My home, although comfortable and something I’m proud of, does not look like it came right out of the pages of a magazine. And I don’t set a table fit for entertaining the queen. But it’s his family and the first time they’re visiting our home. I want to make a good impression and I generally aim for at least half-decent-hostess status. Vegetarian, I can work with, but vegan is intimidating. Plus, it throws a kink in my world-famous (hah! I’d like to think) banana bread plans. I found - on Pinterest, of course - a really awesome recipe for banana bread. It’s easy to make and has turned out great each time I’ve tried it. However, it also contains milk and eggs. Dilemma. Since I don’t drink cow milk, I already had a substitute (rice milk) on hand. Eggs are trickier though. Back to Google I go. (Seriously, what did people do before Google?) After a very brief search, I came across a pretty amazing post: a beginners guide to replacing eggs. Absolutely brilliant! The second option - 3 tablespoons of mashed banana and 1/2 tsp baking powder per egg - seemed like the best fit for my needs. The author warned that banana gives a bit of a taste… I would hope so in banana bread! A little more than an hour before our guests were set to arrive, I started my witch’s brew. Banana bread makes the house smell absolutely delicious - part of the reason why it’s my favourite show-off dish (happy hostess, remember?) So I was a bit nervous when hubby wanted to boil some eggs to add to the buffet we were serving for lunch. When I pointed out that it would be a weird smell combo with the banana bread he gave me his patented (or at least it should be) “Woman, you are crazy” look. Fine, fine, boil your eggs. Stupid eggs were really messing with my hostessing abilities here. Finally, the guests had arrived and settled in, my little one had enjoyed her opportunity to squeal at hubby’s cousins’ kids (she’s at that age where she’s stoked about meeting other kids) and it was time to tuck into the table for lunch. The banana bread cooling on the kitchen counter looked pretty promising, but would it taste as good? I wasn’t sure which of the two cousins was the vegan, so I asked and was met with blank stares. Maybe “vegan” is a different word in Norwegian? I had figured it was a fairly new term, relatively speaking, so Norwegian had probably just yanked it directly from English. No? Ok… I tried to explain what I meant asking who here didn’t eat meat or eggs or milk… Again, the blank looks. “I don’t eat red meat, but everything else is fine,” explained one cousin. “I’m not a vegan.” Not a vegan?!?! Not a VEGAN?!?! (Picture it yelled - in my head, at least - like the “Not a woman” line from Willow. Haven’t seen that movie? You’re missing out.) I tried to stay calm, visions of unnecessarily terrible banana bread dancing in my head. “You’re not? Oh. Hubby said one of you was a vegan.” (Turn to glare in the general direction I’d last seen my husband.) “Nope. I wonder why people keep thinking that?” Turns out, her fiancé is vegan, but she’s not. Well, drat. I explained about the banana bread then, apologizing profusely in advance should it taste wonky. This was my first foray into vegan cooking, after all. (All for naught!) The lunch went off without a hitch. Hubby’s aunt, cousins and their kids are all really nice. (We really should spend more time with them.) And finally, the banana bread tasting began. (Admittedly after some prompting from me. “Don’t forget to try the banana bread. Sorry if it’s terrible!”) I attempted to focus on feeding my baby while people dug in, not wanting to put more pressure on them to “like” the banana bread than I already had. “Hey, this is really good!” I cautiously look around. One cousin is even giving some to her little daughter. Let’s face it, a kid under the age of two, as this little sweetie is, will not pretend something is good to spare my delicate feelings. She loved it! My mom turned to me and confirmed, “It actually IS good!” I had to try it. Huh. Who’da thunk? It WAS good! Alright, so it’s a little ironic that I’d gone to all that trouble for no good reason. And banana bread - being more like a cake than bread, as my husband points out - is not exactly a health food. But I was pretty excited I could make a vegan recipe work. It might even challenge me to look into some other vegan recipes. Maybe even some that are actually about “healthier living.” (That is, after all, what this blog is supposed to be about, right?) I’ll make an honest effort to have a non-foodie post next time. Oh, and I didn’t take pictures of the banana bread. It looks just like a normal banana bread. Google it. In the meantime, here’s the fruit plate I put together. (Pinterest, obviously.) See? Hostessing at its best. Hah!