Endings and Beginnings

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Tonight marks the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018.  Don't worry, this is not another "new year, new me," post, though I'm not entirely clear why everyone loathes them.  But more on this later.  I'm not going to sum up my year, or make goals for next, or announce a big change in my life, or use this day as a humble brag for what I've accomplished and what will come. I'm not going to put anyone down for how they wish to celebrate the ending of a whole year.  If you feel that you want to stay home, and binge a new show all night or get gussied up and put on your best dancing shoes and get so caught up in the glitz and glamour of the evening that you completely miss the ball dropping, both of those sound like mighty nice ideas to me.

Which brings me to the whole point of this post.  I've felt a change in my attitude and my outlook on life for some time now.  It may have become apparent that my affinity for the past and distant decades has tightened its grip on me in the latter half of this year, but it has always been a part of me.  The present attitudes toward life and other people are so cynical and heated.  We are in constant argument with everyone, via the ever dreaded Facebook "debate" and nasty comments on Instagram photos.  If I had a resolution for 2018, it would be something along the lines of embracing sincerity more, and being a genuine person who tries to help whenever they can, and just wants everyone to live the life they want so long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

The New Year is also of great significance to me because it's my birthday.  I was the first baby born in Lodi, California in 1985.  While everyone celebrates the general year ending, I celebrate another year in my life ending.  I find myself exceptionally contemplative about my life, the choices I make, and the person I am and will become, more so than others I think but I can't be sure. I find myself asking a series of questions on the night before my birthday every year: Am I proud of myself this year? Yes. Have I accomplished things I wanted? Yes. Am I surrounded with people who lift me up and want to see me happy and successful? Yes, a thousand times.  I am happy, and in that happiness I no longer see a need for cynicism and negativity in my life.

Truth is, people will always speak badly of you, they will always be jealous, want to see bad things happen to you, and make snide remarks about whatever they can find that they deem is "wrong" with you or your life.  But make 2018 the year that you love yourself and your life enough that it doesn't bother you.  Make 2018 the year that you close the laptop and set down your phone, and visit with a friend, or your grandmother, or your neighbor.  Embrace sincerity and live a simple, happy life.

Have a safe and happy New Year everyone, no matter how you choose to celebrate.
And thank you for reading. I am forever grateful that I have this platform and that so many of you are enjoying my recipes and my thoughts.  Honestly, it would fill my heart with the same joy if even one person enjoyed it.

Not Historical Breakfast Burritos

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

So, I don't have a clever tie in to art history, or period dramas on TV for this recipe. But here's a vintage advertisement anyway!

I was craving a breakfast burrito all day today and nothing would satisfy me.  I love having breakfast for dinner and decided that when I got home I would make the best damn breakfast burrito I've ever had.

Listen, the first thing that people lament over when they discover you have given up meat and dairy is breakfast. Cheesy scrambled eggs, omelettes, bacon, sausage...what can you even eat in the morning beside dry toast?!  Well, cool your jets because any breakfast you can make, I can make vegan.  In addition to this glorious burrito, I will be making a vegan breakfast casserole for Christmas Morning.

I try to make a big breakfast every Sunday morning (I work Saturdays) and Alex and I also have our favorite brunch spots and none of them disappoint on the vegan breakfast and brunch dishes.  Crossroads Kitchen on Melrose is my FAVORITE for brunch, and has a killer Impossible Meat breakfast sandwich.  Little Pine (owned by Moby) is also a great spot for brunch. Mohawk Bend in Silver Lake is great if you have friends or family with you that may not share your dietary preferences, as they have meat and dairy options too!

Again, sorry for not having a clever lesson or story to go with this dish, but I do feel that this treat can stand on its own two little burrito feet.  It's basically just a tofu scramble in a tortilla, but I like a little texture with burritos and also added hash browns with green onions.  And black olives, because I just like them.  Top it off with a ton of Cholula because I'm OBSESSED, thanks to Alex.


Tofu Scramble:
1 pack extra firm tofu, cut into cubes and "scrambled" (I mash mine with a fork)
1tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1 small tin of sliced olives
1 tbsp olive oil
Italian parsley, diced (you can sub cilantro, if you prefer)

1/2 package frozen hashbrowns
2 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 can black beans
salt and pepper to taste

Flour tortillas

In a large skillet melt the butter for the hashbrowns and add in the green onions. Next, add in the hashbrowns and cook evenly on both sides until golden brown and crisp on the outside.

In another skillet heat olive oil and add in tofu.  Stir in turmeric until evenly coated.  Stir in onion and garlic powder and olives.  When the tofu has cooked until firm, add in the Italian parsley and remove from heat.

In a saucepan, heat black beans until cooked through.

I serve my burritos buffet style, because Alex and I like to build them differently (I do this with tacos as well) and it lets you put in as much of each thing as you like.  I make Alex roll the burritos because I don't know how to. Sue me!

This is a nice simple meal, and one that I really enjoy.  I will be making a lot of elaborate stuff for Christmas dinner and Christmas morning breakfast, so I need to rest while I can.  I'm recycling a lot of old recipes this week and not really making anything new. I need my strength for the holiday!


Downton-Inspired English Afternoon Tea

Saturday, December 9, 2017

I have been rewatching Downton Abbey lately, and boy have I been inspired.  Between being incredibly frustrated that my hair isn't long enough to style in Edwardian updos and obsessively searching Etsy for tea dresses, I have been craving elaborate dinners and teas.  Though, not all impressive meals have to be complicated and elaborate to make.  

But there are other influences for this particular meal.  When I was a kid my grandma would let my sister and I have tea parties using her best linens and china.  We were exceptionally careful children who would never break the fine china, and also probably a little spoiled.  She would order and pick up petite fours from the bakery and brew some tea, and we would serve ourselves and honestly I never felt so classy in my life.  Though it wasn't traditional, it was still super fancy (especially for a kid).

Maybe that's where it started, but my sister and I have been obsessed with English culture ever since.  We huddled around the TV for the Royal Wedding, love pub food, and make English countryside meals more often than we probably should.  Though I am proud of my Scandinavian influence, heritage, and mannerisms, we are first and foremost English (and equal parts Irish and Scottish) and do feel a deep connection to Mother England.  We visited England and Scotland when I was 14 and she was 18, and I don't know about her, but it felt like coming home for me. One day soon I'll return with Alex, and I'm sure I'll be a big ball of excited fast-talking spazz jello the whole time.

One thing that has always captivated me about English culture is the formality of their traditions.  Everything has a reason and a place, and it's something that English folks are born knowing it seems.  My grandmother is from the South, but is very English in many ways (her grandmother came to the States).  I learned from her how to set a table, which fork is for what, and what to do with your napkin when you get up from the table (hint: it does not go on the table!).  I'm sure she never told me these things outright, but I learned from her example.

I decided to recreate a traditional English Afternoon Tea, which is sometimes confused with High Tea, though it's important to note that they are not the same event.  High tea is eaten at "high chairs" at a set table.  Afternoon tea is had in a salon or lounge in armchairs.  The order of food that's eaten is also important.  Savories are eaten first, followed by scones, then sweets.  The hostess will pour the tea, unless you are having tea at a tea house, in which the person closest to the pot as it's set on the table will pour.  The spoon is never to remain in the cup while you're drinking, and the cup should be picked up with both hands (please don't put your pinkie up...). Royale tea is even different still, and my favorite, with Champagne served at the beginning and Sherry at the end.  The food is really the best part of the tea, and I wouldn't be too troubled about which tea to serve.  Just remember that milk goes in before sugar.

The menu is simple, and easy to recreate with various dietary differences.

Coronation Chick'n Sandwiches:

These recipes were inspired by Edwardian fare, but Coronation Chicken wasn't "invented" until 1953, for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.  Before that, a similar recipe was called "Jubilee Chicken" which was made to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935.  There was most likely a similar cold curried chicken dish available in the Edwardian Kitchen, as curry became popular in Britain during the Victorian period. Food was now able to be chilled, with refrigerators entering homes during this time. Similarly, curried eggs are an Edwardian staple.

1 bag Beyond Meat chicken strips (unflavored)
2 tbsp vegenaise
2 tbsp mango chutney
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 red onion
bread slices, your choice, crusts cut off and cut into triangles
(measurements are approximate, as always)

Heat oil in a medium pan, and lightly sear the chicken strips with 1/2 tbsp of the curry powder.  Just enough to heat the chicken through. Remove from heat, chop.

In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped cooked chicken with the rest of the ingredients. Mix until everything is distributed evenly and chill in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.

Spoon mixture onto bread slices and serve immediately while still cold.

Vegan Rosemary Scones:

2 1/2 cups flour
6 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
about 3/4 tbsp salt
about 4 sprigs rosemary, minced
6 tbsp vegan butter
1 cup soymilk, vanilla

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking power, salt, nutmeg and rosemary.  Add in butter and mix until course.   Stir in the soy milk until dough consistency.  Wrap dough in plastic and freeze for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 450.

Remove dough from freezer and knead on floured surface.  Flatten into a disk and cut into wedges.  Transfer wedges to a parchment or aluminum lined baking sheet or dish and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Serve alongside strong Earl Grey tea.

Hasselback Ham with Pears and Persimmons and Maple Dijon Glaze

Monday, December 4, 2017

One thing that I find difficult to recreate during the holidays is ham.  Thanksgiving in my home as a child was a giant turkey, and Christmas always meant ham.  Turkey is easy to make vegan -- that and chicken have been done to death.  Tofurky just came out with a new ham substitute and I gave it a shot.  I decided to do ham a different way.  Traditionally in the 1920s, ham was made with pineapple, and that's how my mom made it.  I decided to do something a little different and make a hasselback ham and stuff it with pears and persimmons.  The pears I had already known I wanted to use, and when I was in the market they had beautiful persimmons and I got them not knowing what I was going to do with them.  It turned out I found a spot for them! A glaze is always important with ham, and I did a twist on the maple glaze I used for the chickpea meatloaf from a few posts ago.

The glaze is DELICIOUS.  The flavors work perfectly together and it's the perfect compliment to the flavor of the ham.  Those 1920s hams are honey baked and studded with cloves, so I added the cloves to my version as well.  It became a mashup of 1920s and 1940s ham recipes and I am thrilled with the results.

I served it with Potatoes and Broccoli Au Gratin, which I will be posting later.  It was another retro meal made vegan that was such a success.

1 Tofurky Holiday Ham Roast
2 persimmons, sliced
1 large pear, sliced
whole cloves

For the glaze:
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup maple syrup
splash of liquid aminos
even smaller splash of liquid smoke

Preheat oven to 350

Remove the outer wrapping from the ham and slice the ham horizontally, making sure not to slice all the way through to the bottom.  Slide the slices of persimmon and pear in between ham slices.  Put the ham in a 9" roasting pan and surround with the leftover slices of pear and persimmon.  Stud the ham along the slices with the whole cloves (see photos).  Pop in the oven for about 45 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the glaze. Set aside.

Take ham from the oven and pour glaze evenly over the top. Put back in to roast for another 30 minutes. 

Slice the ham the rest of the way through and serve with persimmon and pear slices, with drippings from the pan.

Et voila! Happy Holidays everyone.