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BBQ THROWDOWN: Vegan vs. carnivore, husband vs. wife

Jul 13th, 2010 | Category: Cooking


Summertime means sunshine, lounging with your friends and family, staying up late in the balmy twilight and of course, barbecues. Barbecues are a summer must; like sunglasses and inner tubes. In short, barbecues are where it’s at. So what do you get when you add a vegan wife and a carnivore husband to a barbecue? A vegan vs. carnivore summer BBQ throw down of course!, a site I post for, made my idea a reality when they accepted my proposal for their 24×24 event call to submission. The event involves 24 bloggers from around the world, hand selected by Food buzz to execute their proposed meals within the same 24 hours. I submitted my idea for a vegan vs. carnivore summer barbecue throw down and was selected to participate; a big day for my blog,
The plan was for both teams to use fresh, in season ingredients and come up with a starter, main, dessert and beverage based on what you would typically see at a BBQ, then put our own spin the food. From there, our five judges set to tasting and rating our creations based on three criteria: flavor, creativity and plating. Let’s hear some applause for our fantastic judges who took their job very seriously. I would also like to extend a special nod to our guests as well, who ate loads and cheered loud.
Teams set, t-shirts on and guidelines clear, we set off creating our menu for this fantastic evening of fun. Round one was the bonus beverage round. Team veg served a tangy fresh squeezed limeade spiked with vodka, topped with a refreshing prosecco float and garnished with a fresh Boxx Berry Farm strawberry and mint leaf from the Bellingham Farmer’s Market. Who wouldn’t want one? Team carnivore blasted to the past with a tasty root beer float infused with vanilla vodka. Special effects included eerie yet intriguing dry ice smoke that had all the judges a little wary.
Team veg’s appetizer was a crispy endive boat with a fresh roasted corn salad and spicy chili and adobo vinaigrette. They were hearty and filling, yet light enough to have 12. Team carnivore pulled out the big guns and served spicy barbecued hot wings with fresh celery and bleu cheese dressing.
From there we traveled on to our main courses. Team veg served a flavorful Middle Eastern spiced butter bean burger complimented with chopped almonds for a crunch, roasted red peppers, cilantro and fresh, in-season garlic scapes. The sliders were served on a sweet bun and paired with a mouth watering sweet potato salad with spicy cumin vinaigrette. Team carnivore ponied up with a juicy beef burger infused with bacon, cilantro, caramelized red onion and morbier cheese. Their burger was served with a very traditional potato salad featuring red potatoes, egg, celery and mayonnaise.
The final round (the best round) was dessert. Team veg blew everyone out of the water with an alarmingly rich and dense cherry chocolate brownie using fresh Washington cherries. The brownie was paired with a succulent cherry port reduction and hand made candied orange slice. Team carnivore, in true classic fashion, made a peanut butter cup cookie then complimented it with a chocolate peanut butter sauce; simple yet rich and gooey.
Bellies full, the judges waddled off to go over their notes. After much deliberation and debate, the judges made their decision: Team veg won 19 to 17! Ok, we didn’t win by that much; the carnivores put up a good fight, but we will take it. Team veg reigns supreme!
In the end, this event was a lot of work and even more fun. I can guarantee that none of us realized the incredible amount of time and energy it would take to execute. It was worth it though; so worth it that we have deemed it an annual event, and who knows? Perhaps you could be the next contender… are you ready for a throwdown?
For full details including recipes and more pictures, visit

Ellen Sheen was born and raised in Bellingham, where she lives with her husband and son. Her passion for cooking and baking grew exponentially when she stopped eating meat and most other animal products. She finds it adventurous to alter a recipe to suit her dietary habits. Ellen blogs at

Spicy Butter Bean Almond Burger

1/2 can butter beans
1 Tablespoon garlic scapes,
chopped (you can also use
green garlic)
1/4 cup white sweet onion,
2 tablespoons celery, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro,
2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
1/2 tablespoon spicy curry salt
(or salt with a dash of curry)
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar
3/4 cup blanched almonds,
chopped fairly fine
1/4 to 1/2 cup panko breading
Kings Hawaiian sweet rolls,
sliced in half
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
4 tablespoons Tofutti vegan
sour cream

Rinse and drain butter beans. Put half the can in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add chopped scapes, chopped onion, celery, cilantro and mix together. Mash lightly.
To your main bowl of goodies, add the chili garlic sauce, almonds, salt, curry powder and agave nectar. Combine well (at this point I used my hands  to make sure everything was evenly combined).
Add the almonds and panko, starting with the 1/4 cup of panko and adding more, up to 1/2 cup if you like.
From there you form the patties. We made sliders. When all formed and ready to go, make sure your grill is hot then pop them on and let them cook on both sides until you have lovely grill marks. Whip together the simple sauce. Toast buns!
When burgers are done cooking, put the patties out family style or assemble the teeny burgers for everyone to grab.

Roasted Corn Salad with Black Beans, Red Pepper and Walla Walla Sweet Onions in an Endive Boat
For the dressing:
3 tblspns apple cider vinegar
5 tblspns extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1 lime
juice of that same lime
1 Chili in adobo sauce, chopped or torn
1/2 tsp adobo sauce from the can the chili came in
1/2 tblspn celery salt
Salt and pepper
For the salad:
4 Ears corn, shucked and roasted
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 walla walla sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
6-8 heads endive, end cut off and de-leaved as far as you can take it
Coarse sea salt for garnish

In a ‘shakeable container, add all dressing ingredients and shake the heck out of it. Shuck the  corn husks and silk. Put them on a fairly hot grill and turn periodically. You want the crispy, delicious look. When done,  anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, remove and let cool. Then, using a knife, cut the kernels off the cob and put them into a large bowl. Chop all your other veg and add to the bowl of corn kernels. Drain, rinse and add beans into the happy bowl o’ veg.  Toss nicely.
Give the dressing another healthy shake and then pour over salad. Toss well and let sit. Salt and Get your endive leaves, all separated. Using a little spoon, put the salad into your little endive boat.

Sinfully Chocolate Cherry Brownie with Cherry Port Reduction
2 teaspoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup applesauce,
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached
all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ultra dark unsweetened
cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
(dairy free for vegan recipe)
1 1/2 cup fresh cherries,
de-stemmed and de-seeded

In a small bowl, combine the flax seed and soy milk. Whip with a fork and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 and grease one 9×12 baking pan.
In your Kitchenaid (or in a bowl if you must) combine sugar and applesauce and mix. Add vanilla, then give the flax seed/soy mixture a quick stir and add that to the sugar and applesauce.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Mix well and then add it in batches to the applesauce mixture.
Add the chocolate chips and cherries to the whole mix and once just combined, pour into the prepared baking pan and pop in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes then remove.
Let cool and serve.

For the cherry port reduction, combine 1/2 cup cherries with 2 cups port. Simmer on the stove until thick and rich (about 30 minutes). If you don’t have a little chocolate cup pop the brownie on a plate and drizzle around it.

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