Eventful Bacon

It’s been a heck of a hiatus, and my kitchen is still recovering. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from making the mess bigger!

After an absolutely dreadful cold that sapped me of any will to do anything (including eat! yikes!), I’m finally almost back to 100% and ready to go again. It’s been an interesting coupla weeks, lemme tell ya.

My mom flew in in the midst of everything to celebrate the Little Dude’s third birthday (three? already??), and I baked him up a little cake from a Duncan Hines mix (that right there should tell you all you need to know about how I was feeling!). Some of these flavors fall in to that “accidentally vegan” category, so I went with the Dark Chocolate Fudge mix. Normally, the box wants 3 eggs, 1 C water, and 1/3 C oil added. That wasn’t going to cut it for the VV household, obvs. I sifted in 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda with the dry mix and used 1 C soy milk with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar in place of water. I found a 3.2 oz Buddy Fruit (apple + banana) in the pantry that I mixed into the batter as well. It worked for the 4″ round cake and several cupcakes.

20130306-101405.jpg

I’m not calling that an official recipe — just letting you all know that it can be done!

I was inspired by Phoney Baloney to mimic their coconut bacon after I found a tub of coconut chips at my favorite Asian market. I dragged my mom along to it and she seemed a little overwhelmed. She survived though, enough to help me demolish some of this crispy tastiness. So, here’s the scoop — in a really flexible format. Ha.

Special Sauce

I have no exact formula for this. Bear with me. I love Sriracha you guys. Like. Really love it. And I can’t bear to toss out that tiny little bit that’s impossible to get out of the bottle. It makes me sadface really badly. So, I turn it into my special bacon sawce.

  • sriracha dregs, in bottle
  • 1/4 C Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (coconut aminos, shoyu, soy sauce, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • optional: 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire or maple syrup

Add all to bottle and shake.

Coconut Facon

  • two or three handfuls coconut chips
  • 2-3 tsp “special sauce”

Preheat oven to 325F. If you have a convection oven, preheat it to 300F. In a small bowl, combine chips and sauce and stir to coat. Spread chips in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimless cookie cheet. Bake 20-30 minutes, until crispy. If using a convection oven, the time will be shorter and you’ll only need to “stir” the chips once, about halfway through. A conventional oven will require some babysitting. You’ll need to flip the chips about ever 5 minutes or so to keep them from burning. Store in an airtight container or bag in the fridge for about a week. To crisp up the chips, bake at 250F for a few minutes, or dry-fry on the stovetop.

faconbacon

Cold Killer

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve had an appetite for anything. Having a cold means that the sense of taste is so dulled, eating isn’t enjoyable. What’s the point of eating good food if I can’t taste it? I’ve been living off of cream of wheat and coffee, so it’s understandable that this week has been dragging on. I was so tired of not tasting food by Friday that I decided to fight back with garlic. LOTS of garlic.

Like, an entire bulb of garlic.

Cold-Killer Soup

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 oz stemmed and thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1/4 C rice vinegar
  • 1/4 C dry quinoa
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 C filtered water
  • 4 C vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Heat oil in a soup pot over med-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until browned, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add rice vinegar and cook until evaporated. Add quinoa, water, and broth. Bring to a simmer. Add kale. Simmer 20 minutes, until kale is softened and quinoa is cooked.

    I prefer to use lacinato kale in this, but curly kale is also a good alternative. I lightly massage the kale by rolling it between my palms while I’m adding it to the pot. This makes it a little more tender and slightly less bitter.

    Feel free to cut the garlic in half if your tastebuds work properly!

    20130225-150123.jpg

    Troublemakers…

    Carol is causing trouble again over at Coffee, Clutter and Chaos, making my sweet treats healthier (and not quite vegan — but I’ll let it slide).  She converted my Chocolate Death Puddingcake into a diabetic and Weight-Watcher friendly recipe. Use coconut oil or vegan margarine such as Earth Balance (did you know they have a soy-free option??) in place of butter and rice milk instead of 1% cow’s milk, and the points and conversions should be similar.

    I’m sorry I have nothing new to give you guys this week, since our household has been suffering from some sort of Yuck. I hope to be back in the kitchen cooking up evil by early next week at the latest! Thanks for being patient.

    If you have any recipe requests… types of food you like, maybe for some more sweets or savories, leave it in the comments below. I’m always up for a challenge!

    V.V.

    Chocolate Death Puddingcake

    This is going to be short because, honestly, I need to get back to eating this thing.

    20130213-181832.jpg

    Despite the five-star reviews promising an easy recipe for a chocolate explosion and orgasmic bliss (okay, I might be exaggerating a little, but they should have warned me), this recipe bit my Skeptical Node and wouldn’t let go. I had to try it.

    From the super-thick batter to the dirt storm it gets topped with, I was shaking my head. Then, with the addition of hot water forming a giant $***-puddle on top, I started muttering under my breath to all the baking gods. I wanted chocolate. What can I say? I got it. Probably more chocolate than my body has room for.

    Preheat oven to 350F.

  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 C AP flour
  • 3 T cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 C soy milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add oil, milk, and vanilla, and stir until combined. Spread batter evenly in the bottom of an 8×8 pan.

    In a small bowl, combine:

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C packed light brown sugar
  • 4 T cocoa
  • Sprinkle evenly over top of batter. Don’t stir.

  • 1 1/4 C hot weak coffee (or water)
  • Pour over batter and sugar mixture. Don’t stir. Bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes, until center is set.

    NOTE: This cake doesn’t rise, but it does bubble. Make sure you bake it in a dish with at least a 2-inch depth.

    Cut a piece of the cake, and place upside-down on your plate or in a bowl, and spoon some sauce from the bottom of the pan over it.

    Try not to eat this all at once, eh? It makes a great “emergency” Valentine’s dessert 😉

    Peanut Butter Belly-Bombs

    I have a little bit of a reputation in our church as The Cupcake Lady. At least, it often seems that way to me. I get inquiries about “Those cupcakes you were going to bring to {event} that ending up getting canceled due to {weather event}?” Yeah. Not kidding.

    There are a few big events of the “church year”, the first of which is “Homecoming”. It essentially coincides with the beginning of the region’s school year, so our various and sundry members are usually back from their summer travels and ready to catch up with everyone else. The kids go and bomb each other with water balloons outside while the adults sit through service, and then everyone eats and plays games. This year, those games included a cupcake walk. And these peanut-butter cupcakes were gone lickity-split.

    20130116-144600.jpg
    Have you ever seen an un-photogenic cupcake? Me neither. And when you walk in with a tray of these babies, you’ll be hailed as the Cupcake God and all shall bow down and worship you.

    Okay, maybe not quite that drastic. But you’ll get some gushing compliments and maybe some fangirl squeals. It’s funny to watch faces if they don’t realize there’s a giant cookie hiding in waiting, ready to explode in their mouths.

    In all seriousness, though:

    These require a little assembly, but they’re WORTH IT. I usually measure out the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and espresso powder) for the cupcakes in a quart-sized jar for easy sifting. And that way, I have sort of an “instant” cupcake mix.

    You’ll have a little leftover batter and leftover cookie dough. I usually just press some cookie dough into the bottom of a 4″ springform and let it bake for 10 minutes, then add the leftover cupcake batter to the top and bake until that is set. You can frost it with any leftover icing for an inside-out Reese’s cup!

    When I say “beat” in this recipe. I really mean “whisk vigorously by hand”. I never use electric beaters when working with flour for a product that should be tender and fluffy. Maybe it’s just my electric beaters that are super-juiced, but even beating something at the lowest setting with them will make the finished product really gross. I have yet to experiment with the hand-cranked “egg”-beaters, but that might be a viable option.

    The peanut butter frosting has a great depth of flavor to it, thanks to the blackstrap molasses. You can use regular molasses, but I feel that it’s not as yummy as the blackstrap! Really go for some good peanut butter. If you have access to a high-speed blender, make your own. Whole Foods and Fresh Market have nut-butter grinders in their stores as well, so that would be a great indulgence.

    I wish I could claim total credit for the insanity, but the cupcake batter and frosting recipes are adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

    PB Cookie Center

    • 1C peanut butter
    • 1C firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1 flaxseed egg (1T ground flax + 3T warm water)

    Mix “egg” and set aside. Mix together the peanut butter and sugar, then stir in the “egg”. Cover and refrigerate.

    Chocolate Cupcake Batter

    • 1 C full-fat coconut milk
    • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 3/4C sugar
    • 1/3C canola oil
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 1C AP flour
    • 1/3C extra-dark cocoa
    • 2 tsp instant espresso powder
    • 3/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt

    Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 12-ct cupcake tin. Whisk together milk and vinegar and set aside. In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil, and vanilla until combined. Add the milk mixture and beat until foamy.

    Sift together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder and soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, beating so no large lumps remain.

    Fill liners 2/3 full (I use a 3T scoop). Drop a small (1T) ball of cookie dough in the center of each cup. Bake 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

    PB Frosting

  • 1/4 C margarine, softened
  • 2 T shortening
  • 1/3 C creamy natural peanut butter
  • 1 T blackstrap molasses
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 – 2 C powdered sugar
  • 1-2 T coconut milk
  • Cream together margarine, shortening, and vanilla until fluffy. Add PB and molasses and beat until very smooth. Beat in sugar 1/2 C at a time. The mixture will be quite stiff, so thin it with coconut milk to reach the desired consistency.

    For frosting these, you can simply slather your sugary goodness on top. If you’re a little more motivated, mound on the frosting by piping it on in a swirl. My favorite tips for these are the Wilton 1M, 2D, or Ateco 805. I then usually dust them with a little cocoa powder and top with a vegan chip.

    If you’re feeling super fancy and motivated, make peanut butter “blossoms”. I piped these on with an Ateco 127.

    20130211-093244.jpg
    There are some great tutorials on YouTube about how to use decorating tips or even a Ziploc bag to pipe frosting.

    Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wear either serious-pants OR fancy-pants to make and decorate these. I did it all in pajama-pants. Because that’s how I roll.

    My Fall CSA Failure

    I love CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). They’re honestly completely totally absolutely awesome. As long as you have two or more really good eaters and lots of creativity and/or freezer space. Let me explain.

    The CSA available through the farm market closest to us is a little unusual. This could be because the market itself is a little unusual. Unlike other markets I have been to, ours is in part of a large building and has produce set up in much the same way as a supermarket does. There is a small area with bulk bins of various dry beans and grains, a refrigerated case with cheese, eggs, and tofu. A seafood vendor, salsa vendor, a small cookie shop. Another case of milk, ice cream, and various meaty items. Peanuts. Holistic pet food. Other than the few vendor stalls, the cookie shop, and the little cafe, the only other choice you have for interaction is with the cashiers.

    I miss going to each “booth” to talk to the farmers, but I also get why they’d just drop off their harvest to be sold here — it lets them go to other markets or spend that valuable time with families or working.

    Anyways. I feel like I rambled and got off track there. So, this market is a non-profit organization, open Thursday through Sunday, selling “local” products. I’m not going to get into defining what “local” means in this case, because I have no idea. I may or may not have had an extremely polite “exchange” on Facebook with their seafood vendor (pre-veg days) about using the slogan “Always Fresh, Always Local” while selling salmon from Alaska. Sorry, guys — this is the East Coast.

    There are several types of CSAs out there — subscriptions varying in price based on season, number of people you’re feeding, if you’re wanting organic produce, delivered to your doorstep, etc. Some CSAs package your share so it’s all ready for you to pick up. Ours works a little differently.

    We pay our subscription fee based on the season (it’s $190-$250, depending) and go to the market once a week for twelve weeks to pick up the items in our CSA share. It’s a bring-your-own-bag affair, and we choose our own items from the bins. There’s generally a placard there saying “Take 6 apples”, or “Choose 2 eggplant” etc. Smaller items like berries or mushrooms are packaged by weight and you simply pick a container. So it’s really fun in that way. You can choose smaller or larger melons/squash/whatever to suit your needs. If you’re an idiot like me, you pick some of the biggest ones and never manage to keep up.

    Some weeks were pretty manageable.

    20130206-201501.jpg

    Others… not so much.

    20130206-201616.jpg.

    20130206-201856.jpg

    At the time, I was still eating omnivorously, though trying to stay on top of the CSA share by myself essentially force-converted me to vegetarianism. Not necessarily a bad thing at all. Except I had never really learned to cook with such a variety of produce. It was certainly an education. I was giving away at least half of my share every week and still had roasted squash stuffed in every cranny of my freezer. My produce bins were overflowing with apples.

    I had to come up with a solution. One was to start canning. The other was this delicious soup. Even with those stopgap measures, I still managed to fail miserably at keeping up. Learn from my mistakes, but definitely try the soup (I apologize for the lack of photo — this soup isn’t very photogenic, but I’ll try again sometime).

    Squash-Apple Soup

  • 1T non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1T EV olive oil
  • 2C chopped yellow onion (1 medium)
  • 1T curry powder
  • 1 1/2 lb roasted butternut squash (1 medium)
  • 2 sweet apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (Gala)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 C veggie or mock-chicken stock
  • 1/2 C good apple cider or juice (Simply Apple)


  • Melt margarine in large pot. Add olive oil, onions, and curry. Cook uncovered on low heat 15-20 minutes until onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping bottom of pot.

    Add squash, apples, salt, pepper, and stock. Bring to boil. Cover. Cook on low 20 minutes, until apples begin to break down. Purée by allowing soup to cool and transferring to a blender or by using an immersion blender.

    With soup back in pot, add apple juice to desired consistency. It should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve hot.

    To roast squash: cut in half, scoop out seeds. Place cut-side-down in 9″x13″ dish in 1/2″ of water. Bake at 350F for 40min. Flesh should scoop away easily from the skin.

    Accidentally Vegan

    “Accidentally vegan”? What does that even mean? If veganism is a deliberate choice, how can one “accidentally” be vegan? I’ve seen this a lot on vegan forums, in comments, in social media, and it saddens me. Why should it matter how someone chooses to describe themselves or their journey to veganism? The operative word is “vegan”, not the description. I don’t care if you’re a lifelong vegan, or only “occasionally” vegan, or “accidentally” vegan. I don’t even care if you’re just jokingly calling yourself vegan because you had peanut butter off of a spoon for lunch fifteen minutes ago. Thanks for saving some animals. For preventing some suffering. For reducing your footprint.

    What about the other way this phrase is used? You’ve probably heard it floating around at some point or another. “Oreos are accidentally vegan” (at least here in the U.S.). What?

    This is usually applied to common foods, other than produce, which contain no animals or their byproducts in the ingredients, which aren’t specifically marked as vegan or marketed to vegans. They’re usually ready-made snacks, prepared sauces, microwaveable meals, and canned soups.

    Life Cereal? Vegan.

    Fritos? Vegan.

    Nutter Butters? Vegan.

    SuperPretzels? Vegan.

    You’ll notice that most of the products are ones which even health-conscious omnivores will usually avoid. The point isn’t to say, “Hey, wanna go vegan? Eat this!” The point is to get people to look at the labels of the foods they normally buy. After all, if that junk is vegan, what sort of foods might they already be eating that are vegan or almost-vegan?

    The point, you see, is to make veganism more accessible.

    Yes, go ahead and make the argument that the sugar used in these processed foods is probably filtered through bone char, so not technically vegan. I get that. I really do. But you have to let people start small. Give them a chance to make less harmful choices. As they learn and become less intimidated and more adventurous, maybe they’ll make the switch. To be honest, I don’t care if someone uses regular granulated sugar or evaporated cane juice. They’re not eating animals or their secretions. End of story. Once that stops, so will the use of these byproducts. Other, less harmful means will be found. Start small. Have some Oreos. Or better yet, have some of this:

    20130204-144209.jpg

    Quick Frito Pie

    • handful (or 2 or 3) Fritos
    • 1/4 C vegetarian baked beans

    Place Fritos in a bowl. Top with baked beans. Microwave about 30 seconds to warm the beans. Consume. (If’n you wanna get fancy, top with some shredded greens, onions, salsa, guacamole, vegan sour cream, vegan cheese, etc.)

    [Recipe courtesy of Chris H. Holla, bro!]

    Sources:

    PETA. “Accidentally Vegan Food List”. PETA.org. Retrieved February 3, 2013 from http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/accidentally-vegan.aspx.