October 2008


Twenty-three posts out of thirty-one ain’t too shabby!  Besides, three is a holy number, right?  And I went three posts over the goal of twenty, so that makes me a vegan cooking saintess.  (smile)

I could wax on about how much Vegan MoFo 2008 has taught me: all the glories and riches of vegan cooking and community and challenges, but honestly, I’m too lazy to do that.  It’s a beautiful day and I’ve got brownies to enjoy!

When Deb posted these pumpkin swirl brownies from Martha Stewart (oh hey, it’s a MS theme this week!), I knew they had to happen.  Granted, baking brownies is like flipping pancakes for me.  Try as I might, they never turn out right.  And since I was out of every kind of egg replacer in my apartment except for Ener-G, I was locked into my least favorite option.  Four eggs, Martha Stewart?  Four eggs?  Ugh.  But I put my best whisk forward and somehow a slightly passable brownie turned out!

The consistency of the first layer of chocolate wasn’t quite right, so it flaked off the bottoms of the brownies, but given that I baked them in an 8×8 inch dish instead of a 9×9 inch, the mongo thickness allowed for error.  Overall, I love them!  They aren’t too sweet and the pumpkin is a perfect compliment for the chocolate.  If anyone else can veganize them better, go for it!  I bet silken tofu or applesauce or a combination of both would work better as an egg replacer.

Now I’m off with these to a Halloween party tonight!  Let’s hope they survive the ride in my messenger bag.  (smile)

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) Earth Balance
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (the original recipe calls for the larger amount; I think it could be dialed down a bit)
4 eggs of Ener-G Egg Replacer (each “egg” is 1.5 tsp + 2 tbsp water)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I forgot this in my recipe…works fine without though!)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan or dish with vegetable oil spray. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides (makes it much easier to remove), and line the pan with it. Oil the lining as well.

Melt chocolate and Earth Balance in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Mix egg replacer with water in a large mixing bowl.  Add sugar and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Add flour mixture and mix until combined.

Pour half of batter (about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it.

In other bowl, stir in the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.

With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect.

Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

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I never thought I would say this, but I’m in love with Martha Stewart’s recipes.  I spent hours on her site the other day clicking through album after album of food porn, oogling recipes, and finding the random delicious already vegan recipes mixed in with pig and fish extravaganzas.  It was a hedonistic experience not recommended for the faint of heart.

But the reason why I was perusing the Marthatastic recipes was because I was in search of the perfect pea soup recipe.  Jes, you say, didn’t read through Veganomicon?  Don’t you know of all the recipes we’ve posted?  How could you have not found a recipe you liked yet?  Well, the answer is pretty simple: I grew up with ham in my split pea soup and only through psychological tricks and pure veganization of a porky recipe could I be satisfied with the results.  Thus I present to you Martha’s Split Pea Soup with Ham, vegan style.

Perfect Split Pea Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped medium onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 carrots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
2 tsp Coarse salt
ground pepper to taste
5 cups vegetable broth
2 cups split green peas, rinsed
1 or 2 of Celine’s faux ham seitan sausage, chopped into bite sized chunks
1 cup frozen green peas

In a 5-quart heavy pot with a lid, heat oil over medium. Add onion, carrots, and thyme; season with the 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper to taste. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add vegetable broth and split peas. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and partially cover; simmer until peas are soft, 30 to 45 minutes.

Working in batches, puree only 1/2 the soup in a blender (don’t overfill); return to pot. Add faux ham cubes and frozen peas, and simmer until heated through. If necessary, thin with water.

Serve with cornbread or biscuits.

I’m getting a bit MoFoed out, not gonna lie.  But on the upside, it dropped below freezing last night!  In Georgia!  It is so ridiculously beautiful outside right now–crisp, clean, bright air, filtered sunlight, the leaves finally changing colors, blue sky–I can’t ask for anything better.

Proof that it’s really cold in my apartment–until now, they
all hated touching each other!!!

So to go with my soup, I present the Ellijay Carriage House’s Herb Batter Bread.  Who knew that B&B Online offered so many tasty recipes?  I even spotted a pumpkin pie cake lurking around in there somewhere.  Hmmm.

I don’t have much to say about the bread besides that it was perfect.  Perfect for soup, perfect for Earth Balance, perfect for smelling, perfect for warming the house, perfect.

Herb Batter Bread

1 1/4 cups warm (not hot) water
1 package Active Dry Yeast
2 tablespoons vegan shortening
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon powdered sage
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups white bread flour

Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water, stir until dissolved. Add shortening, salt, sugar, caraway seeds, nutmeg, sage and 1 1/2 cups of flour. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl frequently. Stir in remaining flour and beat with a spoon until smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape batter from sides of bowl. Cover dough with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

When batter has risen, punch down.  Then plop the dough on a baking tray in a round or oblong shape.  Or use a loaf pan (I prefer the free-form thing myself).  Let it rise for another hour or so until it had doubled in size again.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until brown. When done, immediately remove from pan.

Ahhh Friday night.  A pie in the oven, rain down outside, wind howling through the trees, no central heat, and three cats pumped up on catnip.

Right now I’m making the poet a s’mlove pie for tomorrow’s celebration–he’s taking his final comprehensive exam for his master’s program at 9 am!  I know he’s going to do fine, although he’s probably wide awake and unable to sleep for fear of forgetting Elizabeth Bishop or Robert Frost or W.B. Yeats.  I don’t envy him.  And nothing says “I think you’re the best” like a fresh uber chocolatey, uber peanut buttery pie!

As I mentioned, it’s raining and 50 degrees outside (and I just rode my bike and to and from work in it, ick). Simply, it’s one of those days that calls for soup.  Good, thick, hearty, warm soup.

Deb’s (at Smitten Kitchen) Beef, Leek, and Barley Soup seemed just the thing.  Except, wait, it calls for “two big, meaty short ribs.”  Ew.  So not vegan.  So I thought about making it with only vegetables.  Except veggies just weren’t cutting it.  I needed texture, damnit!  Then I remembered the “Better than Beef” (or whatever corny name it’s called) TVP chunks that I can get at the local co-op.  Ba-da-bing!

Thus, I present to you my version of “Beef,” Leek, and Barley Soup.  It was just as easy as promised and so much more satisfying sans dead cow.  The poet, a raging omnivore loved it and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.  Oh hey, and speaking of bread, see that tasty, tempting slice in the photo?  I’ll post that recipe next.

“Beef,” Barley, and Leek Soup

Rehydrate 1 cup of “beef” TVP chunks.  After they’re rehydrated, pour them into a big soup pot (mine is 5 quarts…I think?  It’s huge).

Add 1/2 cup of barley, three big cloves of garlic shopped up, two chopped onions, three chopped carrots, 1 cup frozen lima beans, and three leeks cut lengthwise and then into segments–use both the white and the green parts.

Add eight cups of vegetable stock and let it simmer on the back burner for at least three hours.

Serve with a thick slice of fresh baked bread!

Hey look, I made it!  I’m still alive!  Sometimes I wonder why I love academia…it’s certainly not for the papers.  I promise to keep my whining to a minimum next semester when I’m pounding out chapter after chapter of my thesis.  (smile)

Remember the pumpkin pie bites?  Well, because I didn’t make a regular sized pie and made bites instead, I ran out of crusts before I ran out of pie filling.  With 1 cup of pumpkin pie goodness sitting in my fridge and me being too lazy to make a little crust to bake it in, I decided to make muffins.  Muffins that mirrored my now infamous cracktastic pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies.

Unfortunately, the muffins weren’t exactly what I was going for.  I wouldn’t use both whole wheat flour and oatmeal if I were you.  And the flavor wasn’t super pumpkiny.  The poet loved ’em, and I thought they weren’t too bad slathered in Earth Balance (and who doesn’t like chocolate chips in their muffins), but they just weren’t my favorite.  Oh well.  Next time I’ll play with it some more!

Pumpkin Pie Muffins

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin pie filling
1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the wet to the dry and mix until combined.  Fold in the pecans and chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into a pre-oiled muffin tin.  Fill up each muffin cup three-quarters of the way to the top.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.

This is what my life looked like last night and how it still looks this morning (except that I’ve moved onto coffee now).  At least I had some hot chocolate to keep me & my massive book of Thomas Hardy‘s collected poetry company!

Vegan Peppermint Hot Chocolate

1 cup soymilk
1.5 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp sugar
1 round peppermint candy

Throw everything into a pot and heat over medium low.  Whisk the milk and cocoa/sugar/peppermint together until combined.  When hot, pour into a mug and try to not drink it until it’s cool enough (burned tongues are no fun!)

I’m a bit tired of typing.  And I’m only part-way finished with my seminar paper, with just over 24 hours to go, so I’m going to leave you with a few pre-fall (but still taken in the month of October) photographs of my favorite walk between my house and Little Five Points/Reynoldstown.  In case you missed my justification for Vegan MoFo and nature photography, check out my first post on the matter!

Some sort of succulent

Hydrangea drying on the bush

Trees just starting to turn colors

A sage maybe?

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