(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)
I decided to pick a dessert to celebrate Valentine’s Day so I chose the Apple Peanut Butter Streusel Pie. It was this and a clean garage for my man – strange how “gifts” evolve over 22 years of marriage!
I started reading through and it mentions the use of a food processor. Now it is a widely known fact in my home that I absolutely HATE my food processor. Just can’t stand it. My husband feels like I am totally irrational on this point. I admit my first excuse is lame. I tell him there are so many pieces to wash. He points out that we have a dishwasher. Ok true. Then I show him how I can’t seem to ever lock it in without a huge fight. He says…and I love this…”you’re doing it wrong”. So fine…you do it, I say. I cannot tell you the amazing sense of satisfaction I had watching him repeatedly try to lock it into place!! Ahhhhh!! Point made.
When I was very young, my mom taught me how to bake. Basic baking ingredients were affordable and it’s amazing what you can create with flour, sugar, powdered milk and imitation vanilla. If we found a great looking recipe with an ingredient we didn’t have, she would save up and get it for me. So I love to bake for the memories; and for this reason, I am really old school about it. So long story short, it’s a no on the food processor.
This recipe called for coconut oil. Ok that would be under the bathroom counter. I always thought it was for making great body scrubs. It never occurred to me to cook with it! I didn’t have enough so I went shopping. While I was standing in front of the overwhelming choices of coconut oils (refined, medium heat, virgin, unrefined) I was so tempted to text Betsy for advice. But seriously, did Julie have an option of texting the great Julia Child? Nope. I’m on my own here, so I chose the virgin, unrefined. It just sounded more vegan to me.
When it came time to make the tart dough, I was skeptical. Coconut oil instead of butter? Surprisingly it really did have the consistency required and it came together perfectly. I pressed it into a heart shaped pan but the sides kept slipping down so I gave up on that and just stuck it in the oven.
With the coconut oil out I just couldn’t resist giving my dry winter hands a spa treatment so I made a quick lemon sugar scrub in the palm of my hand. What could be better? Baking and a spa treatment!! Instant stress relief.
Everything else was a breeze and I was in my element. It was beautiful right out of the oven. I even sprinkled some red sugar over it for a more festive look.
Even though I was super careful to hide the coconut oil and the organic peanut butter, my men were circling it like a pack of wolves – going in, examining it, sniffing it and backing out again. What the hell guys! It’s just heart shaped!! Do they per chance suspect vegan?? Has my cover been blown so early in the game??
So here are the results. My husband kept shaking his head saying it needed more peanut butter (seriously I think he just meant it lacked Jif, his favorite), but he liked the crust saying it tasted like the apples. My son will eat anything and gave it a thumbs up on his way out the door. I, unlike my husband, tasted tons of peanut butter, but I must confess I really missed the butter in the crust and the topping. I do love the fact that the apples were sautéed before going into the oven. Overall thumbs up but sorry, I have to use butter next time. I sure will miss my hand scrub though.
~Kim Howard Hastings