Posts Tagged ‘happy memories’

I am finally getting around to posting this recipe.  Have to say that it ROCKED (if I do say so myself).  The kids came back for multiple servings…  I don’t have any photos of the pancakes themselves, as I was cookin.  But I do have photos of the Turkey Day setup before anybody arrived.

source:, but I got the idea from Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch

lacto-ovo-vegetarian, gluten +

  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1 c pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider)
  • 2 c flour
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a bowl, mix together milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, ginger and salt in a separate bowl.  Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle over meium high heat.  Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 c for each pancake.  Brown on both sides and serve hot.


I have three favorite holidays:  4th of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving.  In that order.  I haven’t spent Thanksgiving with my folks in fifteen years….we usually get together the 2nd week of December and it’s sort of Thanksmas.  So as an single adult, my own Thanksgiving tradition has (usually) been making my mom’s quiche and watching every single Star Trek movie back to back.  All 22 or 24 hours of it…it does take the entire weekend.  Over those years, people have felt sorry for my Vegetarian Nerd Thanksgiving when I described this to them, but I assure it has always made me ridiculously happy.

Since I’ve been with Mark, we’ve de facto had Thanksgiving with his family (since we’ve done Thanksmas with mine).

His family has been “done” by my stepmother-in-law (SMIL).  She’s a good cook, and has a profound Martha Stewart streak.  She invites seventy thousand people and most of us drink a lot of wine and eat on the fine china.  It’s a good time.  It’s SMIL and father in law (FIL), my mother in law (you get the idea with -IL, right?), my SIL and her husband and two kids.  (Chase is 11 and his cousins are aged 10 and 12, so they have a good time.)  That’s the “immediate” family (whatever “immediate” means).  It’s good, and we have family bumps and lumps, like any other.  I’m not as used to it, because my family feels small to me.  Big family dynamic is not something I grew up with (even though I have cousins….we just didn’t do holidays with them).

Often, there’s a smattering of other adults.  Two of Mark’s friends who are both single join us.  Sometimes friends of my FIL show.  What’s nice for me is Mark’s ex-wife has finally stopped coming to Thanksgiving.  Their divorce was final in 2002, and she and Chase’s grandparents still get along very well, which is great.  The year that Mark drunkenly and happily announced that he and I were moving in together with her at the table was the year that maybe she got the idea that it was time to move on and start having Thanksgiving with her boyfriend who has been with her since 2002 or 03, and lives in her house with her, instead of with her ex-husband’s family.  (I think she still comes at Christmas….I work every Christmas, so I don’t really care.  But maybe this year, now that Mark and I are married, someone will tell her she should have moved on a decade ago.)

SMIL has a handful of somewhat adult stepkids who usually show up sometime after everybody at the adult table has cleaned most of their plates, but before dessert….they lurk through and wave.  I usually don’t know who they are, and they grab food, and seem to eat it in the kitchen or somewhere else, drink some wine, and then they leave again.  I call them ‘the teenagers’ until they prove me otherwise by showing up on time, bringing a dish to pass or bottle of wine at least, and eating at the grown up table.

This year, very strangely, SMIL and FIL ordered the turkey with basic fixins from Sunflower Market.  I’m sure it will be very tasty and I’ve certainly appreciated all the hard work SMIL has put into the vast spread from previous years…and I’m happy she’s got the space to have all of us this year.  God knows, I don’t want the Family Thanksgiving at my house.  I want quiche and Star Trek, and Mark wants football at our house, period. (The Packers are up 21 vs. the Detroit Lions right now, btw.)

The womenfolk in Mark’s family also have extremely strong ideas about who cooks what and which pie and such.  It took me a few holidays (because Easter and apparently Christmas are this way, too) to figure out these invisible rules.  I figured out from various snapping remarks from various womenfolk, said usually months after the holiday in question.  Mark has been oblivious to this, so he couldn’t tell me.

Don’t get me wrong….  I enjoy the family, and the Family Thanksgiving.  I like my in-laws, and there’s good food and good wine, and I enjoy pecan pie as much as pumpkin.  Mark, Chase and I are gonna do Thanksgiving my way starting tomorrow.  It’s a new tradition for Mark and Chase, but so far, they like it, too.  (Okay, Chase can do without the quiche, but he will eat it now.)  It’s Vegetarian Nerd Thanksgiving, and I love it.  I’m so excited for our weekend together.  This year, I thought we’d make Christmas cards, too, and Chase is lookin forward to learning how to emboss things, and he likes the idea of picking out designs from my rubber stamp collection.  Crafty stuff should be good fun.  AND we’re gonna do the tree, and we really like doin that the three of us, too.  See?  I just love Thanksgiving weekend.  It’s so fun.

But today is the Mark’s Side Family Thanksgiving.  I volunteered to do the the vegetable.  Because nobody but me WANTS to cook the vegetable.  The family also doesn’t appear to have strong green vegetable opinions (though there are, however, strong ideas about the starches.)

I got this recipe off the internet, on suggestion from a patient of mine.


lacto-ovo vegetarian, gluten +

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
  • 2 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled eggplant (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, mince
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat milk (I used almond milk, cos I didn’t feel like going to the store for this)
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 8 ounces (1-inch) cubed day-old Italian bread (about 9 cups) (I dunno if I had nine cups, but I tore up an entire loaf of Tuscan Bread that I made Sunday for this purpose.  It was, incidentally, cement hard on the outside…and I worried about final product, but the pudding itself seems to be nice and soft.)
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add eggplant and next 6 ingredients (through garlic); cover and cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high. Add tomatoes; cook, uncovered, 15 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool slightly.
Combine milk, 1/4 cup cheese, eggs, and egg whites in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in eggplant mixture. Add bread; stir gently to combine. Let stand 10 minutes. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle pudding with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until pudding is set and lightly browned.

I had a small taste from the corner, and this is really quite tasty.

My only worry is keeping it good, while keeping it warm enough for dinner tonight.  Hopefully, it will be fine reheated….this is the other problem with Family Thanksgiving and the dish to pass thing.  We’ll see how it goes.

Tuscan bread

Posted: November 20, 2011 in vegan recipes
Tags: ,

I’m making lasagne tonight, which I haven’t done in ages.  It’s easy.  Make my Pasta Pazool Sauce.  Boil water.  Add lasagne noodles.  In a pan, layer sauce, noodle, cheese, repeat.  Bake at 350 until you can’t stand how good it smells and you have to take it out and eat it.

I have two goals for this bread…one, is I’ve been meaning to make stupidly simple yeasted bread by hand for awhile.  Mark’s bread machine worked great for me at my old apartment and has made nothing but bricks since I moved in a year and a half ago.  This is my first yeasted bread by hand.  I wanted my own crusty bread with my fabuloso lasagne.

The second reason is I’m planning on making ratatouille bread pudding for Thanksgiving, and it calls for stale bread.  (I’m ensuring that there’s a NON-STARCH VEGETABLE on the table this year.  My stepmother-in-law has usually loved to do a big full-blown-invite-seventy-thousand-people-and-pull-out-the-finest-china every year.  She and my FIL eat meat, of course.  Last year, there was a lovely turkey, cranberry sauce, and starch.  I know….it’s the American way.  On my plate were no less than three types of potatoes, a tossed romaine with a cherry tomato and two breads.  My SMIL is a great cook, and bless her heart for cooking for everyone….god knows, I don’t want to. I’m just gonna mix some vegetables in with the orgy of starch.)

The ratatouille bread pudding was a suggestion from a patient.  It takes ages for store-bought bread in wrappers to go stale because it’s full of formaldehyde or whatever.  And why get the store bought bread that doesn’t decay when I wanted to try Tuscan bread anyway?

I suspect this recipe is called ‘Tuscan bread’ only because that’s a sexy thing in cooking.  Probably best to call this bread ‘Neolithic bread’ because they’ve likely been doing bread this way since then.  Only they didn’t have the benefit of candy thermometers to check temperatures.

vegan, gluten +

source:  Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand by Beatrice Ojekangas

For a large loaf:

  • 1 1/3c water
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 3 c bread flour
  • 3/4 tsp active dry yeast (rapid-rising for bread machine)
  • glug olive oil, which i used to “grease” the bowls, and invariably got kneaded in with bread


Heat the water unitl warm, bet 105 and 115 degF.  Pour it into a large, warmed bowl, and add the yeast.  Let stand 5 minutes, until the yeast begins to bubble.  Slowly add the whole wheat flour and half the bread flour.  Beat until a smooth dough forms.  Cover, and let stand 15 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured board and knead, adding the remaining flour as necessary, until smooth and springy….about 5 minutes.  Wash the bowl and grease it; place the dough back in the bowl, and turn it over to grease the top.  Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  Shape into a loaf and bake at 400 deg for 15 – 20 mins.

This is good basic bread.  I didn’t end up using nearly as much bread flour as expected, and maybe I should have?  The dough was stiff once I added some of the bread flour, so I couldn’t quite get 1 1/2 c absorbed….I got maybe 1/2 c.  After 15 mins, the middles of my breads were sort of damp still, while the crusts were golden and fabulous looking.  I cooked a little longer, but I guess ‘Tuscan bread’ is poofy with lots of holes in my mind.  Ojekangas says in the beginning that she cut the yeast in half because there’s no salt, so it doesn’t “rise out of control”.  Maybe I’ll add more yeast next time, cos I was lookin for poofier, holier bread.  But this bread is very good.

By the way, this is a fantastic book.  Ojekangas gives you instructions on every bread recipe for three sizes, small, medium and large….and multiple ways of making each.  You can mix by hand, in a mixer or food processor…and then baking three ways….in bread machine, oven or on baking tiles.

That is a photo of 6 year old me with my 90something year old great grandmother.  She was blind by the time that photograph was taken, and we made nine loaves of bread from scratch that day.

This was precisely as good as you think it was.

Mark and I love amaretto.  Generally, we’re wine-drinkers.  (And some days he has cheap “super light” beer that other men mock him for drinking….and in summer, sometimes I like to have Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  But generally, we’re wine drinkers.)  He has a preference for cabs and zins; I have a preference for syrahs, petite syrahs (It is a different grape), and the occasional merlot.  But really, both of us are happy to try any varietal.  We do get out of “California and Oregon” sometimes and are open to super Tuscans or Bordeaux or Chianti….but we like American style wines best. So many European reds have that vague dusty taste…

Sorry.  Did I sound like a wine snob?  Sorry.

Mark owned a liquor store up until last year when he sold it, so we’ve tasted a little of all kinds of stuff, including liqueurs.  We have tried some really bizarre, nasty stuff.  There are viler substances than Jagermeister.  Now, especially since he owns a different business, we don’t have as many adventurous beverages in the house.  Amaretto is the one we tend to always have that both of us drink.

I read this recipe to him and his eyes popped out of his head.  Halve the entire recipe for two people.

source:  Vegetarian Times, July/August 2011

lacto-vegetarian, gluten +

  • 3 c thinly sliced peaches (about 4 medium)
  • 2 tbsp amaretto liqueur
  • 2 tsp cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c lowfat sour cream (you will never miss the ‘full fat’)
  • 1 tbsp honey (I plan to try agave nectar sometime)
  • 4 slices prepared angel food cake

Preheat grill to medium.  Cut 2 10-inch lengths heavy duty foil.  Place 1 1/2 c peaches in center of each sheet, top with half the amaretto, butter, cinnamon.  Fold edges together to seal, place on grill.  Cook 6 to 8 minutes.  Transfer packets to baking sheet to cool slightly.  Meanwhile, whisk together sour cream and honey in bowl.  (I suggest you warm your honey and sour cream in Pyrex measuring cup.)  Grill cake slices 30 seconds each, or until golden.  Transfer to plates, top with peaches, and garnish with honey cream.

This was amazing.  It was tiramisu with hot cinnamon peaches.  Remember how rockin hot peaches over vanilla ice cream was as a kid?  (Just thinking of that conjures memories of my grandma hugging me, and yipping puppies at my feet while I ate ice cream with warm peaches on the back step of her house.  Every human should have memories that great about peaches and hugging grandmas.)  This is the grown up version of that happy. 

I wanna mention something about grilling angel food cake.  When light golden, it’s really nice.  But I didn’t obviously make the angel food cake.  One slice charred in such a way to suggest chemicals.  I think a project I need to take on is how to make angel food cake.  I ate it, and it was delicious, but I think I ate chemicals and sugar.  I bet I could do better.

I’ll try to make more of this tonight and include a photo. 

….still awesome the second time.  Mark wants me to make this at our 3rd July party.

The very best part of May, when I was growing up and in grade school, was the quarter mile WALL of lilac bushes at St. Bridget’s school.  You could smell it a long way coming, and all day in school when the windows were open (which was often).  A task was always given to one or two girls (always girls) every day to pick lilacs for a May altar*, which was set up in a front corner every classroom.  Typically, this was a reward for doing best on a test or a spelling bee or something.  I got to go pick the lilacs fairly often because I was a good student, but an especially good student in May.  Lilacs are my very favorite flower, and they only exist in early to mid-May.

(And I won second place on the Northern Illinois Regional Spelling Bee in 8th grade.  Alan Cox won first place.  (Alan has his own Wikipedia page now.  I think this is cool.  I get to still be one of his FB friends, too.)  I went down on the very first word I was asked to spell, which was ‘quietus‘.  Quietus.  I mean, really, have you ever used that word in your life?)  (And in the interest of full disclosure, Alan and I were the only two kids that showed up that Saturday morning.  So, technically, I was last place, too.)

On my very first visit to Mark’s house, three years ago, I noticed he had a gigantic lilac bush in the front of the house.  That would have been sometime in June, and the lilacs themselves were bloomed out, but I just stared at it.  ‘Taking it as an omen’ would be a strong phrase for the feeling, but it was almost that.

The bush is taller than the first story of the house, but only half of the plant is blooming.  I find this bizarre, and curious, and am thinking I should feed the plant something.  (Wonder if it would find the incessantly barking dogs next door palatable.)

I love to grow roses, too.  Cut roses are lovely and all, but what I really like is growing them.  Red roses are lovely, but there’s a zillion rose varieties, each with a different personality.  My Pop-pop had a wall of huge rose bushes and climbers in his back yard.  We didn’t go to Philadelphia often growing up, but I do remember them towering over me.  And I remember that his trick was to use eggshells and coffeegrounds in his soil, to help them grow.  I do the same.  Whenever I find a place that I get settled in and becomes a home instead of just a ‘pad’, I plant roses.

I put two hybrid teas in wine barrel pots out front….a dark burgundy variety called Lasting Love, and a cream/burgundy mix, Double Delight (which is one of my favorites, and I’ve grown it before, hardy and fragrant)  The Lasting Love bloomed already, and the bloom is already looking ill….transplant shock, no doubt.  The Double Delight has one solid cream colored bloom on it (which is strange, also transplant shock, I think), which is wonderfully fragrant.  Now that they have their permanent home, hope they both do well.

I’ve got two climbers to put in:  Fourth of July and Joseph’s Coat, both of which I’ve grown before.  Both did well, especially the Joseph’s Coat.  I’ve got serious work to do to put great soil down in a huge hole, and hoping I have time to do it sooner rather than later.  When I suggested a place for one of the climbers, he said, “Will we be able to see it from the deck?”  As in….won’t it be small down there?

Silly man.  Don’t you worry about that, honey.  I’ll make sure it doesn’t eat the house.

*  I like having lilacs for Beltaen for the same reason.