Day 16: Sweet & Savory Nut Brittle–“‘Cooking the Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Sweet and Savory Nut Brittle(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.)

[Betsy’s note: 360 degrees on an accurate thermometer is the correct temperature to which the sugar syrup should be brought.  However, use your eyes and nose too in case your thermometer, like Kim’s, is not properly calibrated.  You want it dark and deep amber, but obviously, not scorched.]

As I write about the events of tonight’s recipe and describe my most epic fail so far, I am sitting beside an open screen door in 40 degree weather trying to air out my kitchen – my eyes watering from the smoke and the smell of burnt sugar.

I chose Sweet and Savory Nut Brittle. I was so excited about this one because I love brittle anything. Everything started out great. I oiled the pans and measured the ingredients. I dug my candy thermometer out of the drawer and brought the sugar mixture to a boil. I was standing there holding the thermometer up for about two or three minutes before I realized it had a clip on the back – how handy!!

Now I have never in my life brought a candy past the hard ball stage so this was new for me. It seemed like a very long way to go to get to 360 degrees but I was patient. Apparently, however, 360 on my thermometer is the just-before-the-smoke-alarms-go -off-and-it-bursts-into-flames degrees. (I vaguely remember now that something went wrong with the thermometer last time I used it.)

Sweet and Savory Nut Brittle RuinedThe sugar mixture was now black but I thought “Well maybe this is how brittle is done or maybe it’s the balsamic vinegar – that’s black.” So I poured in the nuts and chili powder, stirred it and poured it on the baking sheet. I waited a little bit then pressed in the salt and then broke off a tiny piece to try. The burnt flavor was overwhelming, but being the optimistic person I am, I thought that maybe that goes away when it cools a little more. So I waited.

When it was cool enough to break, I got out the hammer and whacked it. It broke like glass and flew in different directions all over my kitchen. As I was picking it up, I tried a bigger piece and it was like scooping up a bite of ash out of my fireplace – awful!! I couldn’t eat it. I wouldn’t let my dog eat this fiasco. No literally! My dog was excitedly all over this one and I turned around and dug a piece of it out of her mouth. I was afraid of the potential carcinogens not to mention the sharp glass like shards cutting her mouth.

I was so disappointed (as was the dog!). I really think I should leave the candy making to someone with more experience in this field. I am positive this recipe tastes amazing when made by someone other than myself.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Day 15: Indian Saag Dip–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Indian Saag Dip(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 thought I would try a little Indian cooking today so I chose the Indian Saag Dip. I read through all of the ingredients (and there are a lot of them!) and checked through my spice cabinet to see what I needed. Well this led to a complete reorganization of my spices because I couldn’t find anything I was looking for even though I could have sworn it was there.

So I lined them up in alphabetical order and was surprised to see what I really had. I needed turmeric and cardamon so I went shopping. Turmeric was no problem to find but cardamon was a whole different story. Since starting this challenge I find myself seeking out spice aisles searching for spices I have never heard of. I firmly believe that some can only be found in a secret vegan underground to which I am not invited. Well I finally found cardamon but the price – wow! I kept searching til I found what appeared to be buds of it for $5 on the Asian food aisle. Jackpot! I will simply grind it down myself. I must say it did look a bit sketchy grinding buds down in my kitchen.

The recipe goes on to tell me to get my piece of crap food processor out again – please can I have a break from this for just one night? I throw in the tofu and soy milk (yes I broke down and bought the soy milk) and it says to scrape down the sides as needed. Well with my processor once you are lucky enough to lock it in, you don’t unlock it til it’s done. My friends don’t believe it can be this bad. They insist I am being a total drama queen about this so I videotaped it tonight. Once you see it you will understand.

Oh and by the way if any of you run into my husband please tell him I would like a food processor for my birthday. Now he will look at you with a deer-in-the-headlights kind of look but that is just because buying women appliances or cleaning equipment is prohibited in this household. He will think this is a trick. I have taught both my boys (and my husband) that unless the woman specifically asks for it, you do not offer it as a gift. This became a hard and fast rule after my younger son let it slip that they were going together to get me a vacuum cleaner for Christmas one year. They really didn’t understand my reaction to this. Needless to say I did not get a vacuum. But just tell my husband this time I really am asking for one ok?

Now moving on…once all the ingredients were in the pan, the aroma was fantastic. The flavors came together so well – it was a nice variation from the dips we usually make. I will definitely try this one again.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Day 14: Vegan Kung Pao Broccoli and Tofu–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie and Julia Style”

Kung Pao Tofu(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 have had the Kung Pao Broccoli and Tofu recipe on my list for the last two weeks and replaced it each time. I have looked at it so many times that my book opens automatically to it now. Why have I been putting it off? Maybe it was the tofu, but I conquered my fear of that a few days ago so I’m doing this recipe today.

My husband is thrilled that it is a one skillet dish. He always has some comment about the state of the kitchen when I’m done cooking these days. I do honestly try to clean as I go. In fact I hear my mom’s voice in my head telling me those exact words but it usually looks like a cyclone went through my kitchen no matter what I do.

I must admit that I prepared chicken on the side so that if my men refused the tofu they could pick it out and substitute the chicken, but I’m not going to pick it out for them. I was a little worried about what kind of reactions I would get from this meal but I have to say that even I was impressed with the way the tofu looked (and tasted!) before I placed it in the warm oven.

Everything was moving along just fine until I realized I did not have the hot dried chiles. Now that is an important ingredient in Kung Pao and somehow I missed it so I just used a healthy amount of red pepper flakes instead. No problem. Everything else came together beautifully.

My family did not see the tofu part of the preparation so when they asked what it was I just said it was a veggie. That’s not a lie right? One just took it at face value and said it was good. The other tried to analyze it and decided it was fried mashed potato chunks. I think the funniest thing was that my older son came home to eat the leftovers the next day and when he took the foil off the dish, he was so upset that all that was left was the chicken and a few peanuts. His brother had beat him to it.

Get this – no one had eaten the chicken!! (Until that was all that was left of course). I think that speaks for itself about just how amazing this dish tastes. My challenge to get them to love vegetables just as much as the other items on the plate is working! I am so proud of myself – seriously proud.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Day 13: Vegan Curried Couscous AND Vegan Pear, Walnut and “Blue Cheese” Sandwiches–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Pear, Walnut & Blue Cheese Sandwiches

(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.)

[Betsy’s Note: the “F” on Kim’s photo is the grade she gave herself for her adlibbed cheese layer of the sandwiches, NOT for the recipe.]

Today I was super ambitious and decided to take on two recipes.

The first one, Curried Couscous, was the easiest one I have made to date. My biggest challenge was the fact that I had no idea what couscous was. My family has never eaten it. So of course I’m standing in the rice aisle at the grocery store searching up and down. I suppose I looked lost because two of the store managers who were in a deep discussion behind me stopped and walked over to see if I needed help. I said I was looking for couscous explaining that I had never used it before and one pointed it out to me and then proceeded to show me all the different kinds. The other manager told him to stop confusing me and just handed me a box of the plain. They were both so kind that I took two and was on my way.

Putting this recipe together was totally uneventful, thus a real confidence builder for me. I’m totally getting the hang of this vegan cooking… until I took on the Pear Walnut and “Blue Cheese” Sandwiches.

Ok I had already decided that my “blue cheese” wasn’t going to have quotation marks around it. I was buzzing on a total confidence high from the couscous. Pears, bread, mustard, and brown sugar? I got this! The assortment of flavors sounded a little strange, but one thing I have learned from cooking The Blooming Platter is to just go with it and it all comes together in the end.

So I now have the sandwiches under the broiler and go to the fridge for my cheater blue cheese dressing and once again…I can’t find any. It’s gone. So now what? The sandwiches are now out of the oven and sitting on top of the stove not looking so appetizing to me (I was really looking forward to the blue cheese). I searched the fridge again hoping it would magically appear. It did not. So I started reading the recipe for the “blue cheese” and I have none of those ingredients. Time to get creative I guess.

I chose pepper jack cheese and cream cheese – I know, don’t judge me – and I layered it on the sandwiches and put them back under the broiler. Then I remembered I forgot to put the walnuts on it so I quickly took it back out and buried them under the cheese. It came out a little burnt around the edges so I cut the crust off and I honestly did eat it for lunch. I have to say it wasn’t bad!

I did not make this for my family because they really don’t like pears for one, and two, they would definitely object to using fruits with mustard and cheese; and my husband hates walnuts as well. I can definitely say I will be making both of these again. The couscous tasted really good! We served it right out of the pot so fast that I did not get a photo of it but it was beautiful. However I regret to say that I did get a photo of the “sandwich” even though I am sure it looks nothing like a pear, walnut and blue cheese sandwich. I promise to do it by the (cook)book next time!

~Kim Howard Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Day 12: Vegan Carrot Cake Pancakes with Cream Cheese-Orange Topping–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Carrot Cake PancakesFirst let me start by saying that the photo I took does not do today’s recipe justice. I chose Carrot Cake Pancakes and messed up so many times I lost count but no matter – they were still delicious. Let me explain.

I made my list and braved the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon. This was my first mistake. I should have known when I walked in and there was only one cart left. I was moving right along until I had to search for arrowroot powder. Not knowing what it was I assumed it was on the spice aisle so I finally got my cart through the masses until I was standing in front of the alphabetized spice display but sadly, no arrowroot. Hmmmmm… I kept searching but I eventually had to get out of everyone’s way. I found a clear spot and looked it up online. It was compared to cornstarch. No problem – I have that at home. Moving on to the juice aisle for pineapple and orange juices. And I’m done! Finally!

Now we had decided to have breakfast for dinner so I started preparing them, so happy that it looked like an easy recipe. I went to get the pineapple juice to pour into the flour mixture and…no pineapple juice anywhere. I searched the fridge, the pantry, under counters and in the truck. Somehow it never made it home and I am NOT going back to the store. So I had to use orange juice. The batter still looked ok after I added the carrots and nuts (I used pecans) so hopefully I’m fine.

Next I decided to do the cream cheese topping before cooking the pancakes. I went to get the cornstarch and I didn’t have that either. WTH!!! Is this really happening?? I remember my mom always substituted flour for cornstarch so that’s what I did, except I added all the orange juice to the flour not just a couple tablespoons. I give up! I threw everything for the sauce in the pot and let it fight its own way to some form of a cream sauce. And that, my friends, is why my photo looks more like potato cakes and gravy instead of beautiful carrot cake pancakes. Sorry!!!
The good news… they were consumed so fast that it did not matter what they looked like!! This recipe is definitely a keeper.

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Day 11: Vegan Broiled Tofu Sandwiches with Broccoli Pesto–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Broiled Tofu Sandwiches with Broccoli Pesto

(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.)

Today is a big day in my challenge. I feel it is time to face my fears and choose a recipe with …. tofu.

Now the truth is I have no opinion on it and no valid reason to dislike it because I don’t even know what it is. So I’m going into this with an open mind! I chose the Broiled Tofu Sandwiches with Broccoli Pesto. I was lucky enough to have seen tofu in the produce section the week before so I knew right where to get it and thankfully the recipe told me what type to get. So that was easy.

My biggest challenge in the grocery store was trying to locate pine nuts. After 20 minutes of searching I gave up and went home….and that’s exactly where I found pine nuts! I forgot they were in my pantry all along. So shopping is out of the way.

I started by slicing the tofu and preparing it as directed for the broiler. Next step was to break out the food processor. Again. Quite honestly, wrestling with that heap of plastic was the hardest part of this recipe.

I have to admit that when the instructions said season to taste, I threw in a clove of garlic. I do love putting garlic in almost everything. That was my only deviation I swear. I even used the nutritional yeast. We put the sandwiches together and we were ready to try them. I chose an evening when my husband would not be home because I knew I would have to provide other options if he were there.

My youngest son was as curious as me so we sat down to dinner hoping the other one would take the first bite. We discussed what tofu was while we studied it. He reported that it was plant protein but seriously, that doesn’t tell me anything. What plant? How it it made? I have a lot of googling to do obviously. Bored with all my questions, he finally took the first bite and said “Not bad!” That was enough for me.

I tried it and thought it was surprisingly good. I confess I had tried it just out of the oven and was not that impressed but together with the pesto and ciabatta…Wow!! In my son’s words – Not bad! He had to leave for work but when he got home later he took the leftovers out of the fridge and finished them off – that’s says a lot. So now the big question…

Will I give up my omnivorous ways? No, but I will definitely not be afraid to eat tofu again.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Vegan Coca-Cola Cake–The Definitive Version (feel free to use natural cola)

Cola Cake

Yield: 1-9 x 13-inch sheet cake

[Special thanks to Go Dairy Free for including this recipe on their website…three times now..read on to see why.]

If you have ever perused a “church cookbook,” as we call them “down South,” then you’ve seen the dairy version of this recipe made with Coca-Cola.  And if you’ve been to a “dinner on the grounds” at said south’ren church, then you’ve surely seen such a cake if not tasted it.

It appears to be a basic chocolate sheet cake, but it is oh-so-much more: dense, moist, and–though it contains a small amount of cocoa–very chocolatey and caramely from the cola.

This is my third and final iteration of trying to veganize this old classic.  Why final?  Because I finally got it.  I posted the previous two versions because I thought I had it each time.  The moistness and flavor of the most recent was spot-on, but it sunk a bit resulting in a layer of frosting as thick as the cake.  Now, this isn’t a huge problem in my book, but, for the sake of keeping up appearances, this latest version is perfection.

And it was an accident.  In hopes of achieving a bit more sophisticated flavor, I wanted to try my recipe with Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa, but all I had was self-rising flour.  The original recipe calls for all purpose flour and baking soda.  But self-rising flour includes baking powder, and that proved to be the trick, along with flaxseed meal: combining both baking powder and baking soda for proper lift that won’t sink.  Because most folks don’t keep self-rising flour around, I converted the recipe based on the generally-accepted amount of baking powder in each cup of self-rising flour.

For the authentic flavor of the original, I recommend using regular natural unsweetened cocoa powder. But for darker color and a richer flavor profile, try the Special Dark cocoa, which is a blend of natural and Dutched cocoas.

2 cups all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

2 cups natural sugar (I use demerera)

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup vegan butter

3 tablespoons cocoa, regular “natural unsweetened” or Hershey’s Special Dark

1 cup natural cola (or if you drink Coca-Cola, by all means)

1/2 cup soymilk

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (or flax seed ground finely in a spice or coffee grinder)

Vegan Cola Frosting (recipe follows)

Garnish: pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13″ baking pan and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.  In a small bowl, whisk together soymilk, vanilla, vinegar (to create a curdled “buttermilk”), and flax seed meal.  In a small saucepan over medium-high, heat butter, cocoa, and cola just to boiling, reduce heat and stir occasionally until butter is melted; remove from heat.  Make a well in the center of the flour and sugar mixture.  Pour soymilk mixture followed by butter mixture into the well.  Whisk just until smooth and well combined.  Transfer into prepared baking pan and gently smooth top.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes, checking for doneness with a wooden pick inserted in the center after about 20.  Place pan on a wire rack and make frosting which must be poured over a warm cake.  Smooth frosting over top of cake, garnish if desired with pecan halves, cool completely, and serve.  Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Vegan Cola Frosting

1/2 cup vegan butter

3 tablespoons cocoa, regular or Hershey’s Special Dark

1/2 cup natural cola

1 box confectioner’s sugar

Optional: 1 cup broken or chopped pecans

In a large saucepan, heat butter, cocoa, and cola over medium-high to boiling.  Reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally until butter is melted; remove from heat.  Whisk in confectioner’s sugar, one cup at a time, until smooth and completely incorporated.  Stir in optional pecans and frost cake immediately.

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Day 9: Sage-Scented Fettuccine with Butternut Squash–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Butternut Squash Fettucine(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.)

Tonight we were discussing what to make for dinner, and my intention was to go to great lengths to lead my family to choose the butternut squash I had bought but let them think it was totally their decision. This is a skill that most mothers possess and I’m employing it tonight because I really want to make the Sage Scented Fettuccine with Butternut Squash.

Now what follows is a total breakthrough in this journey. I mention butternut squash and my husband says “Oh I saw a recipe for squash the other night that we can do. Where did I see that?” After a bit of thought he says “It was in that book you had out the other night when we had the zucchini.” No way! I swore I had hidden the book so well that night. So I ask innocently “what book?” “That vegetable book,” he says. Oh no!

I get the book out and, without showing him the cover, I turn to the Panko topped zucchini page. He takes the book and immediately checks out the cover and says “This is a VEGAN cookbook?!!!” See what I mean by “vegan phobic”?! So I grabbed the book and said “Oh my gosh, it’s just a book full of really good ways to cook vegetables. Remember the roasted cauliflower? Remember the awesome zucchini? You loved them!” I could see him really struggling with this, so I said “Let’s just find that recipe you saw for squash.” Crisis averted!

After that, we were flipping through the book together checking out different recipes. The one he had seen was for summer squash so we looked at two others for butternut squash and because neither of us wanted to go to the store for a can of black olives, we settled on the recipe I wanted in the first place!

He was more than happy to go watch TV while I cooked although he checked in every now and then. At one point he was looking over the recipe and saw Nutritional Yeast. (Now I had bought that on my last shopping trip so I could use it in this recipe.) “What the heck is Nutritional Yeast?” (ok, I paraphrased there). I admit I still don’t know so I mentioned that I think it’s a substitute for cheese. So he goes and gets cheese out of the fridge and sets it on the counter. Ok I get it. We will use cheese tonight but I will slip it into the next recipe that calls for it.

Now I am not a big risk taker when it comes to spices so I was super hesitant about the sage. I grow it in my herb garden but have never used it. Or so I thought. The minute I put it over the squash I knew where I had tasted it. Thanksgiving! I always buy the prepackaged herb stuffing mix that my mom always bought. That’s it! I love sage but didn’t even know it.

It got a little frantic towards the end pulling this recipe together. I had two frying pans and a pot going at the same time. (We joked later about how much easier cleanup was when we just stuck a veggie in the microwave.)  Finally I got it all put together beautifully in a really pretty bowl and was about to take a picture and my husband points out that I had forgotten to add the cheese. So I scrape it off of the fettuccine and back into the frying pan to add the cheese. Then back onto the noodles. I decided last minute to add some Panko crumbs for garnish and it’s done!

Even though we treated this as a side dish, it truly was the star of the plate. Everyone agreed that it tasted amazing. I feel like tonight was a total breakthrough for me in this challenge. My family is losing some of their phobias about vegan cooking and I am actually enjoying preparing vegetables in a more creative way. Ok so I’m not enjoying the cleanup afterwards but at least my challenge is working and I’m happy.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Day 10: Blooming Broccoli Dip–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Blooming Broccoli Dip(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.)

Today I decided to try the Blooming Broccoli Dip to set out as a serve-yourself lunch option. I read that this could also be served as pita sandwiches so it sounded like a perfect choice.

My kitchen was undergoing some repairs this morning but I found a small space to set out a cutting board and start chopping up the veggies. Funny thing – no one thought it was weird that I chose this particular moment to start cooking – I guess that’s a good thing!

My son was was watching all the healthy vegetables going into the bowl and then he saw me pull out the mayo and says dryly, “Well there goes the healthy part.” Not true! Though I didn’t make the vegan mayo in the book, I still use a healthier option, so no worries.

This recipe turned out looking so pretty! Since I didn’t have to serve it immediately I was able to take some time to get a proper photo. Thankfully everyone was so busy doing their own thing that they didn’t see me with my fingers in the dip trying to face the broccoli florets up and wiping some of the mayo off the red pepper so the color would pop. It was definitely not normal looking!

Once I started shooting though, I did get some remarks like “Jeez, you’re taking pictures of food now??” Is that really so weird guys? I take pictures of lots of things, but then I started explaining that food photography was a new area for me and it’s big business now. My friend in California is doing it and she’s doing well. I look up from my viewfinder and no one is even there listening to my lengthy explanation. Seriously I get no respect!

But that’s ok because I was really stretching to come up with something to throw them off of what I’m really doing! We really loved this recipe. We ate it as a dip at lunch and then made wraps out of it for dinner. I even heated it with some leftover steak and shredded sharp cheese for my son’s wrap. I really like the versatility and the beautiful look of this one. Definitely a hit with our family.

~Kim Howard Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Day 8: Pear-Rum Cupcakes with Tea-Infused Buttercream Frosting–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style

Pear Cupcakes(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.)

Today was a total girls’ day with my little grand daughter Henley. We spent the morning baking these awesome little cupcakes and then went shopping for clothes. After years of raising boys, this is a new experience for me and I love it.

I chose Pear-Rum Cupcakes with Tea-Infused Buttercream Frosting. So, as instructed, I prepared the tea bags and cream the evening before while I was making my own tea. Today I started the batter right when little one went down for a nap hoping she would stay down long enough for me to get them in the oven.

I started reading the recipe and really??? Again with the food processor?! I swear if a certain vegan chef and cookbook author was stranded on a deserted tropical island and could only take one kitchen gadget, it would be the food processor! So here we go again. I’m really thankful little Henley is sleeping so she doesn’t hear some of the words that always fly out of my mouth when I use my processor.

I have to admit I analyzed the recipe trying to find another way but I have to give in on this one. No other gadget that I own would be the same and I didn’t want to screw it up. Because we are not a vegan household, I confess I used white flour, white sugar, and whole milk. Aside from that I followed the recipe – winky face. I admit the part where you add baking soda to the vinegar was so fun I thought I was back in grade school building a volcano as a school project. I decided on mini cupcakes because I know myself too well. I never finish a whole cupcake although I will eat all the icing – so really a lot like a three year old.

Henley with FrostingLuckily for me they came out of the oven right before Henley woke up, so she got to help me with the frosting. She especially loved the decorating and the taste testing. That was her favorite part of the day. Shhh! Please don’t tell her mom and dad!!! So here’s the results… I thought the cake part was fresh tasting and not too sweet but I thought the frosting was too sweet so I added a little salt to it. Then I realized that together they are perfect.

My husband is not a big dessert eater but he loved the cake after he scraped off the frosting. My youngest son got so excited seeing cupcakes on the counter when he got home from school. He asked what kind they were and without thinking I said pear. I forgot pears are his least favorite fruit. So he loved the frosting and left the cake…much like how I eat cupcakes! I sent a dozen to work after lunch and my other son texted me “THEY ARE VEGAN!” the minute he saw them. Remember…vegan phobic family. I texted back ” No they aren’t. I used whole milk and white flour.” Still he insisted they tasted “vegan”. Whatever. It’s ok because little Henley was a huge fan and it was our special day.

~Kim Howard Hastings

Kim Hastings

 

 

 

 

[Betsy’s note: white flour is vegan–just not particularly nutritious–and white sugar is, though sometimes animal bone char is used to refine it.]

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