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Deronn Turner serves up vegan soul food at private dinner parties

Deronn Turner is a cookbook author and soul-food warrior in this town; originally hailing from Oklahoma, Turner knows what down-home cooking should taste like. And she makes that evident during occasional private dinner parties thrown with friends, where she takes over the kitchen and cooks up a delectable all-you-can-eat spread of food.

This past Saturday, Turner catered another one of her parties, and the food was amazing, as always. On the menu was a choice of vegan po'boys or veggie burgers done right; barbecue corn (Kansas City-style), broccoli-and-cauliflower salad, mac and "cheeze," and peach blackberry cobbler for dessert.

The po'boys were served on hoagies; both those and the veggie burgers were delicious and satisfying main courses, and it was impossible to choose which one we liked best. It was also impossible to decide which of the sides was tastiest; the barbecue corn was sweet and tangy, fresh and slathered in a rich sauce.

And the macaroni was the best vegan version we've tried; so far, no one in the city has managed to get so close to the recipe Tom's Home Cookin' uses -- that's the litmus test for homestyle mac-and-cheese, and Turner came as close as possible while using non-dairy cheese.

The peach-and-blackberry cobbler was another home-run for Turner; it wasn't easy to fit after such a feast, but those who tried found it worth their while, with a flaky crust and sweet clusters of fresh peaches and blackberries.

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Red Stripe and sangria were also on the menu; the all-you-can-eat feast costs $15 per person, and Turner changes up the menu every time. For the previous round in June, she served barbecued tofu, vegan "chicken-fried-steak" that was darn close to "the real thing," greens, mock potato salad, baked beans and a green goddess salad to start. Turner really knows her stuff; you can learn more about her and her cookbook at www.sideofsoul.com. And if you'd like an in on her next event, e-mail me and I'll see if I can get you set up!

Have a favorite vegetarian or vegan dish or restaurant you think we should check out? E-mail Veggie Girl!

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