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Not much to write tonight; I’m still struggling with whatever this health issue is. My kids asked me, around 5pm, if there was anything they could do to help get dinner ready today. (They volunteered! I got a little verklempt! I’m doing something right!). I said they could make some oven fries and fry up some of the hippy cake patties I had frozen the last time I made them, for burgers.

Everything's homemade but the bun and the "cheese" (which is Daiya)

Look at the beautiful job they did, working together. They’re 13 and 9 years old. I love my kids; they have a great, close relationship and barely ever have any conflict. It’s pretty great around here, I’m not gonna lie. Proud mama bear, with a full belly.

I probably overdid it with this meal tonight. I tend to get frustrated when I don’t feel well enough to prepare a proper meal. I like my own cooking. I am not a fan of ‘fast food’. And because I had so many parts of this meal already prepared (pre-cooked, frozen chickpeas; storebought curry paste; frozen cooked spinach; frozen naan breads – all from meals past) I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. But I guess I take how much effort I put into our meals for granted when I’m feeling well, because this took a lot out of me. So be forewarned. If you’re thinking of replicating this dinner, set aside a couple of hours to prepare it; especially if you’re doing it all from scratch.

The recipes I’ve posted elsewhere and will link to them under each photo.

Chana Vindaloo (Spicy Chickpeas) on Brown Basmati

Recipe.

Vegan Palak Tofu-"Paneer" with Naan

Recipe.

Halwah / Halavah (Steamed Farina Pudding)

Recipe.

 

Oh, I hope I haven’t been dropped from the Vegan Mofo list. I am so sorry for my absence. I had a medical emergency last Thursday (it was all very exciting with being rushed to the ER and all) and I was put on some heavy duty meds that have made me very sluggish and nauseated. This has meant I haven’t been doing much food prep. Remember how I was talking about making extra servings of all our meals and freezing them? These sorts of weeks are why I do that. So the family can remain fed even if I cannot do real cooking. I will say that over the weekend my  husband took over dinner prep in a very excellent way. He made roasted vegetables on polenta, and french bread pizza. (The other nights he reheated leftovers). Everything has gone smoothly. And while I’m still not 100% (and we’re still waiting on test results to find out what’s going on with my innards), I am on lower doses of the accursed meds (which are actually doing what they’re supposed to) and wanna start cooking dinner again, at least; if not in my usual elaborate manner.

So, last night I pulled out the rest of the seitan “roast” I’d made last week and shaved it nice and thin with my cheap-y mandolin slicer. I caramelized some onions in a skillet with some olive oil, added a few spicy pickled peppers and the seitan, and fried it all around for a few minutes to get it nice and hot and crispy around the edges. Then I added some generous sprinkles of Daiya (Italian-style), turned the heat off the skillet, covered it, and let it rest for five minutes to let the “cheese” really melt. In the meanwhile I split a couple of soft Italian rolls and spread one side with garlick’d Vegenaise and the other with a sweet barbecue sauce. Once the “cheese” was all melty, I scooped generous helpings of the “steak” mixture into the prepared rolls, and served them steaming hot.

Drool-worthy Vegan Cheese Steak Subs

Not pictured are the oven-roasted  root veg’ sticks I made. I chopped some carrots, parsnips, potatoes and turnips into thin french-fry shapes, tossed em in oil, salt and pepper and roasted ’em at 425 F, stirring now and then, for about 30 minutes. I feel terribly guilty if my kids don’t get at least some kinda vegetable on their dinner plates every night.

By the by, if you don’t happen to have a delicious seitan roast just sitting around in your fridge waiting to be used in these subs, try using giant portabello (portobella? portobello? I have never been sure of the correct spelling) mushrooms, sliced real thin and marinated in olive oil, salt and pepper for half an hour or so. Not exactly the same but they will still have you vacationing in Tasty Town.

 

I had some bosc apples that weren’t going to last much longer. They’d been picked from an organic orchard on Cortes Island, BC back in late September. We were given an 8lb sack of them at that time and I had made some into apple sauce, and the rest were eaten fresh, but they were becoming increasingly mealy with every day that passed, so I decided it was time to get some baking done. I’m not an enormous fan of apples or apple-products but I do like a good apple cake or muffin. These fit that description to a “tee”. I even got a little fancy and added in some finely chopped crystalized ginger I’d had lurking in the dried fruit bin for almost a year, and put a little powdered ginger into the cake batter for good measure. The texture of these muffins can only be described as velvety and soft. Not moist, and not overly dense, either – which I’m attributing to the use of the soy yogurt. It’s not something I always have on hand (the kids have decided they don’t like it anymore, so I had to use up the last of what was in the fridge. However I would buy soy yogurt again and again if it meant we would be eating delicious soft rich muffins like these more often.

 

Wonderful, Appleful

Apple-Ginger Muffins

2 cups flour (I used half unbleached wheat, and half whole grain spelt)

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 1/2 tbsp baking powder

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tsp ground ginger (or more, to taste)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup plain or fruit soy yogurt (if it’s sweetened, you may wanna reduce the sugar used slightly)

2/3 cup non-dairy milk whisked with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 cups peeled and diced apples

1/2 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger

Preheat oven to 400F. Line 24 muffin tins with paper cups or prepare them with grease and flour.

In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together and stir in the brown sugar until it’s well incorporated. In a seperate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk the soy yogurt, non-dairy milk + vinegar, and vegetable oil together until smooth. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the liquid mixture. Stir until just mixed and there are still even some streaks of dry mix apparent. Fold in the chopped apples and crystalized ginger. Portion the batter into the prepared muffin tins (only fill each tin about half to two-thirds of the way to the top). I like to use an ice cream scoop for this job. Bake on the middle shelf for 25 – 30 minutes or until they test done. Let the pans cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before trying to remove the muffins. Enjoy warm with “butter”, “cream cheese” or your favourite preserves.

Yesterday I touched briefly on the topic of my kids’ school lunches and decided today I’d write a little more about them. Being vegan they face some unique challenges when it comes to packed lunches; living with a set of parents who prefer them to have whole foods as often as possible adds to those challenges. And put one of them in a school where there are two kids with known, severe peanut allergies and you’re probably wondering what on earth they could possibly pack every day that would be 1) delicious, 2) nutritionally adequate and 3) not get them too many funny looks from the other kids.

We’re still working on number 3. But we’ve got numbers 1 and 2 down okay.

Behold.

 

Left to Right: Yam Dip, Sunflower Pate, Toasted Sesame Hummus

Yep, my kids bring sandwiches filled with sunflower pate, whole wheat pitas smeared with toasted sesame hummus and yam dip with which to garnish their organic whole-grain crackers. Do they like these foods? Yup. Do they get teased about them? Sometimes, I imagine, though I have only heard of one incident where it got particularly heated. I just remember all the times I brought my homemade wholemeal bread sandwiches stuffed with soybean spread when I was a kid. Or my roasted chickpeas and raisins. I got made fun of too – but I still enjoyed the food and I’m glad my mom gave me a taste for wholesome stuff like that as a youngster. I realize now how much more delicious and less disgusting it is than balogne and processed cheese slices and Wagon Wheels. (Remember those?)

By the way, I insist you try making this yam dip yourself. Locals may recognize this as a staple on the menu offered by Foundation restaurant here in Vancouver. I boycott the joint now due to multiple instances of egregious customer service errors, and I don’t even miss it now that I can approximate their “Mingling Yams” here at home. You can do it too. Take 2 yams and roast ’em in their skins until they are nice and soft. Put ’em in the food processor with a matching number of garlic cloves. Add a healthy dollop of tahini, a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a glug or two of real maple syrup. Puree until completely and totally smooth like buttah. Eat with crackers, lavash bread, veggie sticks, corn chips, toasted pita, or a spoon.

Lest you get the wrong idea, my kids do occasionally get Tofurky deli slices and veggie dogs for lunches. Often they bring leftovers from our dinner the night before, depending on how complicated they might be to eat. They don’t always have as many fruits and veggies packed as I would perhaps like, either. I feel happy if I manage to get them to take one serving of these things every day. This has less to do with their willingness to eat them and more to do with the very minimal amount of time they are allotted to eat their lunches each day. My daughter gets 15 minutes before the kids are kicked outdoors – and they’re not allowed to bring food outside with them. My son does a little better in highschool now – it’s a 40 minute break and the kids can eat where they like.

Tomorrow is a day off here (lest we forget), so there are no lunches to pack, but I know what we’ll be having for lunch anyway.

Slow-Cooked Seitan Roast Dinner with all the Trimmings

That was dinner tonight. Can you say “Open-faced Seitan Sandwiches on Toasted French Bread Au Jus”? I knew you could.

By the way, I have really, really been enjoying Vegan Mofo. As a first-timer I was feeling a little intimidated but it’s proving to be more fun and less work than I’d imagined. And I am really, really loving checking out my Google reader a couple of times and day and keeping my finger on the pulse of what everyone else is doing. We rock.

 

 

 

I did it! No lentils tonight, darlings. I had insomnia last night and made my menu plan at 5am…

Handwritten, cuz I'm old-school

A secret – I bought enough stuff to make double amounts of pretty much every meal, to be packaged and stored in the chest freezer for some future meal time when I’m feeling too tired/overwrought/lazy/busy/blah to actually cook. Or when we have a lean week money-wise and I have a hankering for meals gone by. I’m making lasagna while the sun shines, as they say.

Then over my first hot cup of coffee at 6am, when I finally conceded that I would not be getting back to sleep, I wrote my grocery list…

Organized According to How the Grocery Store is Laid Out

I organize my list according to the grocery store’s layout. Tell me I’m not the only person that does this? Heh.

You may have noticed there isn’t anything on my meal plan for breakfasts or lunches. That’s because generally the kids eat toast or cereal with a smoothie in the mornings. With our Magic Bullet, they can pretty much be left to their own devices on school mornings. They also make their own lunches! This is an actual policy at their elementary school and part of the overall “never do for a child what she can do for herself” mandate (they go to a weirdo hippy school). Works for me! So I just make sure they have plenty of things to choose from every day and they get to have full autonomy over their lunches. Though I do look them over and make suggestions, such as – you need an apple and/or some carrot sticks. Perhaps I’ll talk more about school lunches and the challenges we’ve faced over the years in another entry.

So, according to my meal plan, tonight’s dinner was my famous Sunflower Pate Lasagna and The Ultimate Vegan Caesar Salad. Is it bragging if it’s the truth?

Bake a layer of uncooked Sunflower Paté into your lasagne, instead of veggie "meat".

Homemade croutons are the key to a perfect Caesar Salad. Oh, and garlic.

I don’t understand people who seem to think vegans are deprived when it comes to food. I consistently make meals that strike all the same notes my non-vegan meals of yore did. Filling, hearty, savory, sweet, rich, with a ton of variety. The only time I’ve ever bored with my food is when the pantry is almost bare and I’m too lazy to go shopping to replenish it. Oh, and I am occassionally bored with the vegan restaurant options in my city. Vancouver is pretty good for choice, but we live far enough outside of the city proper to make a trip into town for a meal a bit daunting, especially on a weeknight. I try to look at it as a good thing: I am “forced” to cook at home more often than not, which is less expensive and often healthier. Yeah…that’s it.

My kids always know when I have neglected to make a meal plan for the week (and subsequently neglected to make my usual categorized, alphabetized and cross-indexed shopping list – or go shopping at all), because that’s the day that we have some sort of Exciting! Creative! Lentil dish. Note to new parents and/or new vegans (or hopefully new vegan parents) – always keep your pantry stocked with lentils. You have no idea how many times they will save your ass; especially if you start your kids eating them from a young age and you end up with a couple of total weirdo youngsters who actually gobble them up in all their various incarnations, with gusto. My kids are crazy for lentil soup, lentil stew, lentil pot pie, lentil dahl, lentil balls, lentil salad…you name it. They just love lentils. So trust me on this one. Buy lentils. When it looks like you might be running low, buy more. They are inexpensive, protein-rich, and cook faster than beans with no soaking required. That’s my pro tip for tonight.

At 5pm tonight I had to finally acknowledge that the whining had begun and I hadn’t the faintest idea what I was going to do to quell it. I did what I always do in that situation, Pinky – tried to make something out of lentils. I am very lucky that a dear friend of mine recently sent me a fresh jar of Arabian Baharat spice mix, from my favourite spice-mixin’ company Monsoon Coast. If you aren’t so lucky as to have a friend like that, or access to your own Arabian baharat spice mix that has been pre-mixed and sold commercially, I suggest you try making your own and keep it on hand. In my opinion, there is nothing better when you’re stumped on what to make out of your lentils. Here’s a selection of good looking recipes for grinding up your own. I’m not that industrious (read: mostly lazy) so they’re offered untested, but do let me know how it goes.

Before I was entirely clear on what I was doing I put about 2 cups of brown lentils in a pot, and filled it up with water til they were covered with it by about 2 inches. I set it on to boil. I then set about hunting down some easily cooked grain like rice or couscous. No such luck. All I had in the cupboard was flour and cornmeal. I had a vague recollection of making some delicious and tender cornmeal dumplings a while back, that I’d let simmer away in a giant vat of French-style tomato, herb and lentil soup. I figured I could do the same kind of thing but cook the dumplings in some boiling, salted water, and mix them into the lentils near the end of cooking.

I mixed equal parts cornmeal and flour, added some baking powder, salt, cumin (another great flavour for lentils) and smoked paprika. I then whisked in some soy milk and water to make a fairly thick batter. With the water at a high boil, I dropped scant teaspoons of this mixture into it, working quickly. Then I turned the heat down to medium-low, covered the pot, and let them boil merrily away in there for about 15 minutes. Don’t cook your dumplings any longer than that as they’ll go from firm-yet-tender to a disintegrating mass of mush in fairly short order. And while I’m on the subject don’t overcook your lentils, either – they should be al dente when you remove them from the heat and drain them. Nobody likes a mushy lentil and since I’d decided at this point to make a kind of spiced stir-fry out of them and the dumplings I wanted them to retain their shape and stay slightly toothsome.

The beauty of this kind of cooking is you just work with what you’ve got. I could have put any number of vegetables into this dish, had I actually planned for it and go shopping to accomodate it. As it was, all I had in my fridge tonight was a handful of carrots, the last few stalks of a bunch of celery, some apples that needed to be cooked to be considered edible. I also had a couple of onions and a few bulbs of garlic. Because I like to have more than one homogenous green lump of mush on my plate at a meal I decided I’d roast the carrots, whole; and but the rest of what was lingering (some might say MA-lingering) in the fridge into the Arabian-style lentil-and-dumpling fry-up. I chopped everything up kinda chunky. I heated a humungo skillet over medium and added some oil. I tossed all the veg and apples in and sauteed them all around until they got kinda tender and aromatic. Then I heaped a few generous tablespoons of the Arabian baharat into the pan, along with some sea salt, and stirred it all together. Then I added in the drained lentils, strained dumplings and very carefully mixed it all around until the seasoned veg & fruit were all incorporated. Add in a little lemon zest and juice, and voila….dinner.

Baharat-Spiced Lentils with Cumin-Cornmeal Dumplings, Roasted Carrots, a blob of soy yogurt & a lemon wedge cuz we's fancy.

Yeah, so. This meal isn’t winning me any awards from Gourmet Foodz Unlimited but both my kids had second helpings, and frankly, those are usually the highest accolades I can hope to achieve since deciding to breed. Plus, you know. Kids voluntarily eating lentils and vegetables. Honestly? That’s gotta be worth a plaque or certificate or something.

Oh – were you wondering how to roast a carrot? Preheat oven to 425F. Peel (or don’t) all the carrots (of similar thicknesses) you think you can eat. Put them on a roasting sheet. Drizzle them with oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast for 25 – 35 minutes or until they look kinda like that picture. Nom. Feel the vitamin A seep into your eyeballs. Be happy.

Clockwise from the top: Cheezy Tofu Scramble, Banana-Berry Smoothie, Sauteed Spinach, Garlic & Mushrooms, Veggie Sausage Patties, Roasted Rosemary Nugget Taters

I’ll let the photo speak for itself, but I do just wanna say – I make the best goddamned scrambled tofu on Earth. Yes I do.

 

Sorry about missing some posts this weekend. I did actually take pics and stuff – I just didn’t have a chance to sit down and write entries. This is Saturday’s entry (so, Vegan Mofo entry number 5 for me). We had dinner plans with some friends to consume vast quantities of idli and dosa at our favourite (pure vegetarian & vegan-friendly) Indian restaurant, but I knew from past experience that there wouldn’t be anything on the dessert menu for us vegans, so I decided to bake up a tray of one of my fave desserts,so that we’d have something to nom on during our post-meal Rock Band 2 extravaganza. It’s actually amazing that we had any room for anything in our bellies after that meal – I ate so much idli 65, gobi manchurian and palak dosa I thought I was gonna burst! But we made room. We almost always do.

Towering Sweetness

Revani is the Greek name for a semolina-based dessert that is actually found in many other cultures. In Arabia it is called basbousa or hareesa, and in Egypt, ma’mounia. There are as many variations on the flavours you can use in this dense, sweet cake, but they all have one thing in common – they are made with semolina and soaked in a syrup for a few hours before serving. They are also all amazingly delicious. There’s something about that texture that semolina provides – grainy but soft, almost like finely ground nuts. And of course soaking any dense cake in a flavoured syrup, while it’s still hot, makes for a delicious, meltingly sweet treat unmatched by any other dessert.

My vegan version of revani isn’t as fluffy or light as a non-vegan version. That’s because traditional revani relies a great deal on the use of beaten eggs as the main leavening agent. You can’t really replicate that with vegan egg substitutions or chemical leaveners, but honestly, the vegan version stands on it’s own as a beautiful, delicately flavoured sweet to be enjoyed with a strong cup of tea, coffee or chai. And while revani is technically a dessert that comes from the Middle East, the use of semolina and the technique of soaking the finished cake in a rose-scented syrup is reminiscent of several of my old favourite East Indian desserts, like halavah and gulab jamun.*

One tip: be careful when baking this cake as it is fairly easy to overbake (as I did, slightly) and to end up with a more crumbly than dense texture. It’ll still taste great, but the texture will be off. Not a big deal unless you happen to be a total perfectionist. Ahem. Regardless, my guests all loved this dessert and the recipe was requested. Here you go, Anita!

Apricot & Almond Revani with Rose-Scented Syrup

Try alternating the types of tried fruit & nuts and syrup flavourings. Suggestions: Mango & Coconut with Vanilla Syrup; Candied Lemon & Pistachio with Pomegranate; Red Current & Toasted Sesame with Ginger

Syrup:

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp rose water (or try orange blossom water)

Cake:

1 cup vegan butter substitute

1 cup sugar

1 cup semolina (aka Cream of Wheat cereal – uncooked)

1 cup all purpose, unbleached flour

2 tbsp baking powder

1 tbsp ground cardamom

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup apricot juice (or apple juice, in a pinch)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup toasted almonds, coarsely ground

1 cup finely chopped dried apricots

First, prepare the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally, then remove from heat. Stir in the rose water and let cool to room temperature before pouring over the cake. (If you pour hot syrup on a hot cake you’ll end up with a hot mess.)

To make the cake, first beat the vegan “butter” with the sugar until it’s fluffy and smooth. Add the apricot juice and vanilla and beat until completely incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder, cardamom and sea salt and mix until just combined. Spread evenly into a 9 x 13″ baking dish and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle the cooled syrup over the entire cake. Let rest until at room temperature, then cut into squares or diamonds. Store covered in the fridge, but serve at room temperature for best flavour and texture.

*By the way, if anyone has successfully veganized my beloved gulab jamun, please let me know. I’ve tried it a couple of times, replacing the powdered milk with powdered soy milk and powdered coconut cream and I’ve never been able to get the texture quite right. You’d be my vegan hero!

 

For a few years now, Friday night has been pizza night at our house. My kids have very specific tastes. My son likes Yves pepperoni, mozza “cheese”, green olives, and pineapple chunks. My daughter just likes Yves pepperoni and mozza “cheese”. My husband and I like to pile on all manner of things our kids won’t touch with a ten foot pole – tons and tons of greens, fresh onions and garlic, pesto, artichoke hearts, capers, hot peppers, very thinly sliced potatoes, sauerkraut, you name it. We put it on there.

A Vast Sea of Vegan PIzza

Back in the days before Daiya vegan cheese, I would buy Vegan Gourmet by Earth Island (if I was feeling flush) or else I’d use my old standby nutritional yeast-based sauce, which frankly works really well on pizza and all other things that require a ‘melty’ topping. But Daiya has reigned supreme here at our house since August 2009, and unless something even better comes along, I can’t see that changing any time soon.

I boasted on Twitter earlier that I was going to give away the secret to making making really fast, delicious thin crust pizza. Here is it. When you mix up the dough, you don’t let it rise. Not even once. You let the yeast foam in the warm liquid with a bit of sugar, yes. But after you stir in the flour, salt and any other seasonings you’re going to use, just press that dough ball right into your pan (preferably greased and generously sprinkled with coarse cornmeal) and pile it with toppings and then pop it in the oven immediately. It will still rise a bit in there – it won’t be cracker thin or anything – but I find no matter what dough recipe you use, or the quantity you’re making, if you don’t bother with letting the dough rise you’ll end up with a very tender, delicious, sturdy-yet-thin crust. Try it! The really beautiful thing about it? For me? Is it saves time like whoa.

So here’s my dough recipe. Try it, or use your own. As I said, with this technique it doesn’t much matter what recipe you start with.

2 1/4 – 3 cups flour (unbleached, whole wheat, spelt or any combination thereof)

2 1/4 tsp dry, active yeast (1 envelope if that’s how you roll)

2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup each non-dairy milk and water

2 tbsp oil

1 tbsp sugar

Bring the “milk”, water, oil and sugar to a boil, then remove from heat, pour into a bowl, and let cool to lukewarm. Add the yeast and gently stir. Let rest for about 10 minutes or until it foams. Stir in the flour and salt, a bit at a time, until a soft dough forms. Roll out to 1/2 an inch or less thick, in the shape of whatever baking sheet or stone you are using. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease the baking sheet or stone, sprinkle generously with cornmeal, and lay the dough out over it. Add desired toppings. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until the edges look golden. Turn the broiler on for the last couple of minutes of cooking to get the “cheeze” bubbling. This dough recipe will make  enough pizza for 2 – 3 hungry folks to munch – double it if you’ve got more mouths to feed.

Now here’s where I add my caveat for these photos – I didn’t actually get my pizza into the oven right away. There was a small, non-life-threatening family crisis almost immediately after I rolled the dough out tonight and I had to step away from the kitchen for about half an hour. In that time period the dough rose slightly more than it would have if I’d just continued to work quickly and efficiently; so these photos don’t really do the thin crust technique I described justice. I am proud to say, however, that this pizza still tasted super duper fabulous and so even if you don’t get the thin crust thing right, you won’t be disappointed.

Oh, in case you were wondering what’s on there tonight – we’ve got an organic tomato sauce, a bunch of crushed fresh garlic, a full pound of organic arugula (amazing how those greens cook down, ain’t it?), Yves veggie pepperoni, Daiya Italian-style “cheese”, black olives, sauteed button mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts and a healthy dose of my homemade vegan parmesan (ground almonds + nutritional yeast). My husband ate his with a few splashes of Sriacha sauce too.

I took really nice photos today (in natural light!) of the toasted sesame & apple cider vinegar hummus I made for the catch-up gab session I had with my BFF of 10+ years, but I forgot to put my the memory card back in my camera for them and because I don’t have a camera cord anymore I have no way of getting them off the internal memory. You’d think there’d be a function for that, but there isn’t. I will try and recreate the look of the lovely platter I put together tomorrow but honestly, I have such a short attention span for that stuff – the moment has passed, you know?

But that’s okay! Because I have some nice pics of tonight’s delicious dinner, which I have just decided to call “Hippy Cake Stacks”, because it is very funny. Maybe only to me.

Hippy Cakes stacked on perfectly crisped roasted potatoes, with layers of rainbow 'slaw

Honestly, though? This recipe is an old standby in our house, that I’ve been making since waaaaay back in the day, back before I was even vegetarian and these patties were in meal rotation simply because they are easy, and cheap (emphasis on cheap), to make. And I was being fed these kinds of Hippy Cakes as a kid in the 70s and 80s, because I was raised by a single mom who was broke a lot of the time and who understood the finer points of feedin’ a kid on the cheap without using a lot of convenience/fast food. I was lucky to have this experience as I grew up because it gave me an appreciation for how relatively simple it is to make wholesome, delicious and filling food even when you work a full time job and go to university full time, and have a very, very limited budget. My mom did that; and she taught me how too.

I bet you are wondering how to make perfectly crisped roasted potatoes. There is a trick to getting them jusssst right. First of all, use organic potatoes and leave the skins on. Then you cut each potato into quarters, and par-boil them for 5 – 7 minutes, until they are just soft on the outside and beginning to get slightly tender in the middle. Drain them, toss them back in the pot you parboiled them in, put the lid on and shake them around over the still-hot burner, just to rough up the edges a big and dry them off some. While they have been boiling you want to have placed a large casserole dish with a generous coating of oil  on the bottom of it into your oven and preheated it all to 425F. The oil should almost be smoking by the time the potatoes are parboiled. Carefully transfer them into the hot oil in the casserole dish, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and pop them in the oven for about an hour, turning them every twenty minutes or so. At the end of that hour, they’ll be absolutely perfect. Crunchy skins, golden and cripsy edges, soft, hot, velvety insides. Mmmm. My family can devour an enormous quantity of these.

The coleslaw was leftover from our Dia de Los Muertos feast, which is why it’s looking a little pale pink all over here. The beets soaked into everything else. It doesn’t pop with colour the way it did two nights ago, but dayum, it still tastes great.

For dessert, I threw together a super easy chocolate chip snackin’ cake. It is kind of wild to me to think that I have been baking so much and for so long that I don’t even really need a recipe for things like this anymore. Luckily for you I remember exactly what I did.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Snackin’ Cake

1982 called, it wants its dessert back.

Dry mix:

3 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I like Cocoa Camino brand)

Wet mix:

1 cup non-dairy milk whisked with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup canola, corn or sunflower oil

Line a 9×13″ pan with parchment, or grease & flour. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Stir the dry into the wet until everything is well combined, but do not overmix. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden around the edges and tests done when you poke a toothpick in the centre. Let cool 15 minutes before slicing. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, if it lasts that long; longer if you keep it in the fridge.

O-bla-di O-bla-da, Life Goes On

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