Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie That Rocks! (. . . and a snowy day)

At Last! These are what I would call: The perfect vegan chocolate chip cookie.
And as you can see--I like a bit of dough mixed in with the chips, not the other way around.

Slightly underbaked, these will be much better--trust me!

Mmmmm. Chocolate mountain.

What I see right now.

Another shot of what I see. That white square to the right of the picnic table down there in the "hollar"--it's a salt lick for the deer. That big bush of green giant stuff--it's bamboo. Mr. Thyme insisted on it when we moved here--it grows like a weed, soon it may creep into our house. Maybe I can turn it into yarn.

It's a snowy day here in St. Louis. A beautiful morning. I took a photo. I am sitting in our outside deck chair I pulled inside looking at the woods in the back yard. I walked outside with the dogs at six this morning and heard nothing. The snow was like a a giant blanket of cotton keeping sound away. I just loved it. There is something about snow. It's a magical reminder that whatever else is going on in the world (and recently, the news seems to be getting worse and worse)--it reminds me mother nature is our constant. She guides, shakes up, quiets and calms. Snow. Well, that's enough of "Deep Thoughts" by Kelly. On to more enticing things--vegan chocolate chip cookies. Yes, I am still sticking to my New Year's resolution of "sugar is not a vegetable" but that can only last for so long--I must have something sweet to nibble on in this house--just not eighteen sweet things at once.

Lately, I have seen an increase in the number of pastry cookbooks I own. I have a love/hate relationship with baking vegan. I am a great baker--I am not trying to brag, it's just the truth. Oh, there have been some great kitchen catastrophes here, trust me. And I will bake something that perhaps the "rest of the household" doesn't appreciate quite as much as I do--or bake for friends and find the same thing holds true. But I have thick skin when it comes to my baking. Plus, I was born under the astrological sign of "people who make great baked goods"--so my persistence in the area never really wanes. I love vegan baking most when I get things right--like vegan brownies. Don't have this recipe down yet. Will someday--have had good ones, but felt they were heavily ladened with oil--and a few too many calories to keep around this house. But more importantly to me is finding the go-to vegan chocolate chip cookie. I've tried them all. As a beginner vegan, there was a video posting of a "you must make this Toll House-like cookie"--I did, and it wasn't even close. I have tried others of course. Some with a bit of success. Some with a little less. Until this week. My vegan chocolate chip cookie worries can be put to rest. Thanks to a cookbook I found at a local used bookstore--a fave hangout. I've said many times before how much I love used bookstores. There is nothing better than puttering away an afternoon browsing the stacks, looking at the past. Something about the smell, too--all gluey and old. My bookstore has a ghost living there--that makes the visit that much more special.

Enter Maida Heatter's Cookies, a book I can honestly say is worth the time to try to get your hands on. First, she is the cookie queen. I had heard of her, but never owned one of her cookbooks. I've stumbled across her recipes here and there, but never knew who this Maida was. If I pick up a pastry book, I go to the basics first--did they get the chocolate chip cookie right? That is the test. I will say, this cookbook has no photographs. All text. Lots and lots of text. I had to actually read the book to figure out where to start as there are many iterations of several "well-known" cookies throughout. I found the recipe for David's Cookies and knew instantly, this would be the cookie I'd vegan-ize.

This cookie, David's Cookie, according to Maida, originated in the mid-80s in NYC and was all the rage. It was a chocolate chipper, but made with chocolate chunks, vs. chips. It is supposedly a well-guarded secret, yet here it is in her cookbook. Knowing this was intriguing enough. I had to try it. I added a bit more vanilla extract to my recipe and opted for a bit less chocolate--the ratio of dough to chocolate seemed a bit much for my liking when I first made these. From the photos taken after the cookie cooled a bit, you can see the chocolate morsels are just brilliant and all melty. The dough part is such that when you remove it from the oven within the time stated (and that is to make sure to underbake it and for heaven's sake--check your oven temperature--mine is always off by ten degrees)--you will be much happier than to take a look and figure the baking time needs to be extended a few minutes more--don't do it--better to underbake this! I have had two-to-four cookies a night for dessert for the past week. I can honestly say, these cookies still hold their own. But last night, probably was their last full edible evening as I had to hold the cookie in the soy milk for about half a minute to get that milk-dunkingness goo that I love. So, I'd say it is safe to estimate that these cookies stay really good for about a week in an airtight container. As for the chocolate used. I used Ghiradelli 70% Cacao. It is the only chocolate chunk I like that does not contain milk. So yummy! I hope you try these!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
*makes about 35 small cookies

6 oz. chocolate 70% Cacao
2 sticks Earth Balance Vegan Butter (or 1 cup)
1 cup light brown sugar--packed
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
*you could add about a 1/2 cup of your nut of choice, but I am a purist with chocolate chip cookies

Preheat oven to 400. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the chocolate on a cutting board and coarsely chop. I had my pieces in about 1/2" chunks. Set aside. Now, prep your egg replacer--whisking well, then setting aside. Take the butter out and chop into pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand blender, mix the butter until it is fluffy--about a minute. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla and beat again until the sugar is well incorporated. Add the egg replacer. Mix in well, be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer, beat in the flour until it is all mixed in--this won't take long. Just watch and when you see it is mixed in enough--there might be some flour at the bottom, that is okay--use a wooden spoon for the rest of the mixing. Stir in the chopped chocolate chunks. Take a teaspoon of dough at a time (and I try to make sure I am not just pulling up chunks of chocolate and no dough--I like my chocolate to be spread out in my chocolate chip cookies. So if I grab a teaspoon that is all chips, I re-grab forming a ball that is more evenly distributed--it helps, seriously). Place the teaspoon of dough on cookie sheets about a 1/2 inch apart. They won't spread too much. You will easily be able to fill two cookie sheets. Place your oven racks evenly apart in the oven. Bake cookies for 8 minutes--turning at 4 minutes. Meaning, rotate the top tray to bottom, and turning them from front to back. Then bake 4 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Let sit on cookie tray for about a minute. Remove carefully from the cookie sheet and place on a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. These are amazingly delicious cookies! Will store in an airtight container for about a week.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vegan Slow Cooker Minestrone with Teff Agave Bread

The minestrone was a perfect match for the Teff Agave Bread. Mr Thyme used garbanzo beans, pinto beans, some carrots, onions, 2 cloves of garlic, celery and spices along with a can of whole tomatoes, (chopped), plus veggie juice--2 cups and veggies stock--4 cups. Set for four hours in a 4 quart slow cooker. Add your favorite cooked pasta at the end--let it cook another 30 minutes. Viola--it was delicous. (We sprinkled a bit of vegan parm on it, added some green onion and drizzled olive oil on the finished bowl.)

The teff flour added heff to this bread--in a good way. This bread has the most amazing crust.

Lest you think I have taken a break from my vegan cooking (and apparently some have as I have sadly lost another "follower"--where do they go, why do they leave?). I have no idea. I am puzzled and curious. I have always been curious. So, maybe I should include a button asking: Why are you following this blog? And the converse, Why are you departing this blog? I am a sensitive sort--running high with giddiness at times, and on other occasions, running quite low. I prefer the first to the last. I stumbled into Twitter and Facebook because. . . well, I was curious. Now, not so much. It is one more stop I must make in my checking in, logging in, remembering the login passwords, etc. Of the two, I think a tweet now and then is more my speed. Keeping this blog is something I enjoy. It is my first stop most days. I like seeing comments. But also enjoy sharing my vegan chow. But as we are into the dark winter months, I am not as inclined to begin thinking of clever foods as often as I was say, a month ago. I am taking a mini break from the "this-must-be-a-meal-I-post" drive. For every season. . . well, you know the rest.

I have been on a soup kick since the onion ring night. As delicious the holiday indulgence was, I also realized that just because one is vegan does not mean they are immune from the "holiday five, or ten" or whatever your weight gain may be. Personally, I could eat soup year round, though it is best this time of year. The comfort months call for bringing soup of all kind to the front of the cooking line.

I also love bread. I am, nor was I ever, one to put myself on any diet. Ever. I thought that whole no carbs diet was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard of. Honestly. Plus when I worked around the people on the carb-free diet--they seemed to become more agitated, more barbaric in their demeanor--eat your carbs I say and do so with great gusto. Just not the whole cake. Not the whole loaf of bread either.

Which brings me to my favorite: soup with bread. My bread machine is about a year old. I love it. It sits smugly on my counter begging me to add my water and flour on a daily basis. So I was thrilled when I picked up my new Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook, by Beth Hensperger (again with a shout out to Beth and her fine bread baking skill!) and I flipped open a page to this wonderful sounding teff bread. Hers was made with honey. My change included making it with agave. Interesting note included about the bread is that teff is produced in only one place in the US--out in Idaho by a single shop. He produces much of his teff for the Ethopian communities living in the US. Beth notes in her book that teff is the tiniest grain in the world. Who knew? Then it is sold under a few vendor names--most recognizable to me: Bob's Red Mill. I love the Red Mill grains. I bought teff flour to try as I was, what else: curious. The teff agave bread was true heaven. I could not have been more pleased. It has a slight nutty taste, a moist and chewy crumb and a crust that was to die for. I am the kind of gal that leaves crust behind. But with this bread, all the crust was gone. I hope you give this bread a shot--or scour the internet for other teff uses. It is a grain I am truly impressed by.

Mr. Thyme made the minestrone. He doctors it up with about two cups of veggie juice, then adds about double the amount of veggie stock--to give it that nice color and amazing taste. He set it in the slow cooker for about four hours. At the final half hour, he cooked about 3/4 cup of pasta and then added it--preferring not to have the starch release and thicken the soup during its slow cooking time. There are a million recipes for minestrone out there. Just be sure to serve a wonderful bread with it. And, be sure to have some vegan parm on hand for sprinkling on top.

Teff Agave Bread (for the bread machine)

*Note: when you bake with agave, you must reduce the liquids a bit--I've made an adjustment on that front in this recipe for you. This recipe is for a 1 1/2 pound loaf.

3/4 cup water at 80 degrees
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 1/4 unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Teff Flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Vital Wheat Gluten
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Red Star Active Yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine per manufactuer's directions. Set on Basic Loaf, 1 1/2 pound loaf size. Set on medium or dark crust. Once final beep takes place--remove from the machine, allow to cool for about a half hour prior to slicing. This bread re-heats well in the microwave the following day--give it about 15 seconds.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Knitting And Weaving through Winter (And Yarn Store Advice!)

I love my new fingerless mittens and wear them everywhere!

This is my latest project--one many knitters will recognize from Interweave Knits in Spring 2009. I had to teach myself the "tubular cast on" for the collar. It took me five attempts. I was pretty proud of myself, actually.
My first basket--I call it Calamity Jane. It's how I was feeling at the time.
A basket I designed on my own--not truly structured in the sense of straight lines and all--but if you've been reading this blog, you've probably figured out, I am not a straight line kind of gal.
This is called coil weaving. A wonderful, sort of mindless weaving. Wrapping natural fiber wool yarns around a clothing line to create shape and containment. It turned out lovely and was a fun class.
This is my recent coil weaving project. I pick it up once in a while when my hand begins to hurt from knitting. I can't sit and do this for very long. But when I do, I enjoy it. (Bigger arm movements involved.) I am planning to make it in the shape of a plate--for a wall hanging piece, perhaps. You can see the clothing line being used.

It's knitting season. It's also basket weaving season. I love to do both. Not at the same time. And I would not call myself a "regular weaver"--though I have had many fine experiences with reed. I thought I'd share a few of my baskets with you. I received a really nice email from a fellow weaver. This post is for her. The rest of the post is for the knitters. I have a new cardigan I am working on--and wanted to show you my finished fingerless mittens, too (pattern by Nancy Fry)--I love them! But onto an ugly knitter-reality: bad knitting store customer service.

Yesterday I ventured out in the snow and went yarn shopping. I had spent the morning on the internet combing through ravelry.com--a site for which only the truly knit-inclined can appreciate--it is like a black hole for me. Before I knew it, I had spent nearly three hours of my morning just stumbling through page after page of beautiful projects and yarn. I was inspired, armed and ready. Sadly, one of my yarn stores was not ready for me. I made a special trip to a past local favorite. Too bad for me they were not in a "customer service" mood, too bad for them I have a blog to talk about this. I am not someone who demands a lot of attention when I shop. I worked retail for nearly 18 years--most of it in management--not the best time in my life by a long shot, but certainly a time in which I learned a thing or two about customer service and running a business. My favorite store I visit is one in which I am welcomed, smiled at (they know my name), and find that no matter what my mood, knitting project or obsession might be--they help--they listen, or they make sure to let me know they'll be there should I have a question if I appear to be "wandering aimlessly"touching this, touching that, rubbing a skein on my face or arm--things very common amongst the knit-types. They have been a saving grace for many of my knitting crises. They know who they are--and I would have been there yesterday, but they are closed on Sunday. So, ladies in other yarn shops take note:

1. No matter how prepared or focused one seems (with pattern book in hand)--approach and re-approach for possible suggestions on what guage yarns may work with my particular need of the day. You are, after all, a small, local yarn store--if the ratio of customers to associates is lower (and nine times out of ten, it is)--there is no reason to not keep those already on the premises in your store there. . . and perhaps have them make a purchase to boot!

2. Don't sit at the wrap station dissing previous customers (using your "outside" voice so all of us shopping are indirectly warned) who were a bit peculiar (like the lady who kept pulling yarn from the bin and replacing it in a "new" home--only to add to your already frustrating day)--you work retail, that is your job. AND you work in a yarn store, a small yarn store--where it may take you twelve steps to get from one bin to another. Most knitters are, by and large, quite esoteric, but very bright women--just do your job and be grateful you have customers!

3. Don't turn on NPR in the middle of the day--especially if Click and Clack are on. Muzac was bad enough, oh and the day someone thought it'd be fun to listen to their boyfriend's downloaded Ipod "alternative bands" music--nothing better than to shop with that in the background.

4. If you in any way, shape or form take on an attitude (and you know what I am talking about) with any customer regarding a knitting question or problem they may have encountered while knitting their "most-favorite-I-must-make-this-in-a-month" cardigan with fingerling yarn (which may or may not have been purchased in your store)--check your attitude in the break room and keep a smile on your face! The next yarn project purchase could be a conversation away. You will lose business if you appear to talk down to someone--and have lost business by doing so (just because you have been knitting since you began to walk does not make the rest of the world less talented or less worthy)--they just did not have the mother/grandmother you had.

5. If you are a knitting store proprietor, don't ask your associates how the day's sales are and then say, "Oh" in dissappointment--only to then walk over and turn on NPR--perhaps to liven things up. Walking past two other customers in the mean time. First, ask that question in the back room, second, perhaps you might help your associates with a sale or two yourself!

6. Michael's and Hobby Lobby carry yarn, too. I have seen plenty of big box yarn showing up on ravelry.com. We are in a recession. It might be good to remember this.

7. Online yarn is cheaper.

8. Yes, people do purchase yarn from stores/websites other than yours and may on those small occasions, need assistance with a tricky stitch--help graciously, it will reward you tenfold in the future. If you dare ask "where did this yarn come from" (with your eyebrow arched and your downturned frown) you are itching for a fight, and that ladies, will only cause one to look elsewhere the next time one shops.

I have plenty of knitting I want to do this winter--along with my cooking. But making a case for us "knitters" who, again, are quite smart, are willing to listen to sage wisdom and suggestions and who turn to our LYS for such wisdom--a little self checking on your part wouldn't hurt. I'll be back to the vegan goodness in a bit, but I felt this diversion was needed. Plus, I just got a lot off my chest that needed gettin' to. I feel better, that is all that really matters.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Holidays from Mr. And Mrs. Vegan Thyme! (Join The 21 Day Vegan Kickstart)

Happy Holidays from the Vegan Thyme Family! *Some of our family were camera shy this morning.


Mr. Vegan Thyme loves, loves this vegan chewy molasses ginger cookie!

Mmmmm. . . home made potato dollar rolls. Mmmmm.

If I can make these, so can you!

This looks like a little, but it is a vegan plate of amazing yum: vegan onion rings and a vegan slider with a slice of avacado, tomato and vegan cheddah cheese!

What a great, fast and so-over-with holiday that was! I am happy to report that we survived another year of holiday hoo-haa and am now beginning my sugar de-tox program. I made even more cookies than I had posted here. I did a super bake off on the days leading up to Christmas Eve that included chewy molasses ginger spice cookies and a new vegan chocolate chipper that I am planning to post some time soon. After looking back at my recent posts, I thought it best to hold off on any more of the cookie-like posts--for fear the American Diabetes Association would come calling. Like many of you, I have a resolution or two to deal with. One is that I will no longer think of sugar as a vegetable.

We turned to soup for Christmas. An inside out taco soup--it was delicious and just what the doctor ordered--and light! On Christmas Eve we indulged in eating Match Meat sliders (just take Match Beef, and mix with your fave burger fixins, only make them the size of dollar rolls--so yummy!) served with a side of Emeril's buttermilk onion rings (recipe from foodnetwork.com)--to make vegan buttermilk--use the same amount of soymilk for subbing the buttermilk and add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar per cup--allow to sit at room temp for about 30 minutes and viola, you will have vegan buttermilk. We served our Match Meats sliders on homemade potato dollar rolls--made with real potato. The home made potato dollar rolls are to die for. Again, a recipe from my most favorite of bread baking books: The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger--the best part is that they were made in my bread machine on "dough" cycle! So yummy! I am hoping I inspire some of you to get Beth's bread book.

I am heavy into my knitting season and basket weaving. Yes, I do some of that, too. Maybe will have a post dealing with baskets at some point. I received my first subscription to Bon Apetit in lieu of my canceled Gourmet the other day. I had to sigh heavily and think about the void being left behind without my Gourmet. I am still in mourning. Bon Apetit. Which reminds me, we rented Julie and Julia--a bit of a disappointment and so far from the book that I will request Nora to please hold off writing any more screenplays for a while--but that Meryl Streep can still act even if it requires her to be a box in a corner.

I received the Baking with Julia DVD (the first one to be released) and the companion cookbook. I will enjoy this tremendously I am sure, though I do not think I am quite ready for some of the more advanced recipes, like the 900 folds for creating a puff pastry from scratch (which only requires 6 folds) but I am not a mathmatician, so I will leave that alone for now. Overall, very inspiring to look at and think about. And determine how to best make the recipes vegan--I am sure some vegan-Julia is to come!

Finally, the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart program is just around the corner! Even if you are a vegan, this program looks to be a fun and information-filled three weeks of Just Do It-ness. I cannot think of a better way to begin a new year--become vegan! And get up and move--I know I will be doing a bit more running and a lot less cookie grazing--(it got crazy around here, seriously). I am over cookies for now, thank god. But don't expect me to quit baking any time soon--vegan treats are a must!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vegan Italian Almond Fingers

You could knock yourself out with the powdered sugar on these--I held back a bit for the simple reason of wanting you to see how pretty the almonds look against the cookie itself! The cookie crumb is moist inside and a bit chewy and crunchy on the outside. . . pure heaven!

These look just as delicious without any powdered sugar--but it would be wrong to leave it off, in my opinion, anyway.

If I had posted anything for these past few days, it would have been cookies. I have been "stress baking"--my holiday cure for getting through this mess each year. Yes, I said "mess". I was lucky to have had a snowy morning to wake up to a few days ago--it made for a beautiful backdrop in the woods behind our home. I was so energized by this, I begged my husbby to please, please get the camera, let's take the dogs and make a Christmas card photo. He looked at me with a cautious optimism--he knows how fleeting these moments can be. Now, I have not sent a holiday card out for two years--but if we have snow before Christmas, I find myself on some sort of auto pilot for "joy" (albeit for a brief period of time)--and begin addressing the envelopes to long lost friends--and a few to family as well (all of whom I am sure will see this in their pile of bills and think, seriously. . . a card. . . from Kelly?).

Baking is an outlet for me that no other activity quite fills. I have knitting, sure--but I reserve that activity for the evening hours, which leaves another seven or so hours of day time to fill with, well, sugar and flour--my other BFFs in the world. (Aside from my running.) So the next few posts will be about cookies. Then, I am sure, like most of us, we will all be ready for a revamp of our eating habits (except the vegan part, that is not leaving any time soon).

This recipe is from, again, one of my faves: Dolce Italiano: Desserts from The Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma--what a wonderful pastry cookbook! I have yet to try a recipe (and vegan-ize it) in this collection
that did not succeed--the directions and ingredients are incredibly accessible and easily translated. Her recipe for Italian Almond Fingers was a dream recipe. I opted out of baking my usual "wedding cakes"--those addictive, powdered-sugar coated balls of flour and butter and pecans--and instead wanted to try--well, a cookie covered in powdered sugar still, but one with a bit more sass--like these traditional yummies. I love almonds--and I love lemon. Both of these ingredients are infused in this cookie (be sure to have almond flour on hand--it can be pricey, but is worth every penny when baking cookies like these). I am telling you--nearly all of these are gone! *I had a friend over last night and graciously shared them with her--to keep me from eating the entire batch! She loved them, too. I added a pinch of my favorite "yellowing" ingredient--tumeric--to get the best "look-alike" as I could as the base of the recipe is made with egg yolk. So the gorgeous yellow hue is brought out in the cookie making it more visually appealing and truthfully, imparting a hint of flavor that is so subtle--but so divine--I hope you try these cookies!

Vegan Italian Almond Fingers

3/4 cup almond flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 sticks Earth Balance Vegan Butter (or 1 cup)
1 cup Florida Crystals sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 1 tablespoon warm water
zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package of sliced almonds or about 1 1/2 cups of them
1/4 cup powdered sugar (for dusting)
1 teaspoon Ener-G Egg replacer with 1 tablespoon warm water (for brushing on dough to roll in almonds)

This dough requires about an hour to chill before making the cookie. Just an FYI. So, for starters, prep your egg replacer and set aside in a bowl. Next whisk all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until fluffy--about 3 minutes. Add the egg replacer, vanilla and lemon zest. Next, add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well until a somewhat stiff dough is formed. Flatten the dough into a round disk and place wrapped in plastic in the fridge for an hour. Preheat oven to 325 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the almonds on a plate. Mix your egg replacer and get a pastry brush ready to coat the cookie with--or just use your fingers. The rest of the shaping of the cookie can be done by hand. Remove the disk from the fridge and with a pastry cutter or knife, divide the dough into three equal sections. Take one section and roll into a log about 1/2-to-1" thick. Meantime, place other sections in the fridge to keep cool while you work with the dough. Then, cut the log into about 1 1/2" pieces. Carefully, shape each piece into an oval and then, wipe with or brush with a bit of the egg replacer, then roll in almonds and place on cookie sheet. Repeat this process until all dough has been used. Space the cookies about 1/2" apart on cookie sheet. You should be able to use all dough and just two cookie sheets for this recipe. Bake for about 14-15 minutes--rotating the cookie trays from top-to-bottom and turning half way--about 7 minutes into baking. (For even browning.) Don't over cook these--they may seem a bit soft when they come out of the oven, but they will firm up! Remove from oven and let set and cool for about 2 minutes. Carefully, remove cookies from tray and then place on cooling racks. After cookies have cooled, lightly dust with powdered sugar--enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Copenhagen Casserole (Free Charlie Tuna!)


So, I'll admit that my favorite part of any casserole is the crunchy, chewy top--you know what I'm talking about, those barely browned and chewy pasta shells make the dish delectable!

The right amount of sauce is achieved my watching your saute pan and increasing the amount of soy milk you'd like based on your personal taste--the sauce-to-pasta ratio in this is just about right for me.

First, we have snow outside! I am so excited when it snows, I can hardly contain myself! Grant it, no major accumulation, but I am sitting in the back room of our house with the trees and hills around me covered in a light layer of the beautiful first snow. We can take our Christmas photos now. . . outside--whew! I won't send cards if we don't have a snow before Christmas.We have snow--so cards it is!

We all have a memory of a tuna casserole. My memories include cans of cream of mushroom soup, maybe topped with bread crumbs, lots of celery and peas and stuff--depending upon the food pantry rations at the moment--which is what makes this such a good dinner item. This is also the dish many-a-home cooks take to friends in time of need. It is an old stand-by. One of the most vivid memories I have of casseroles is when my mom passed away. Lots and lots of casseroles. The casserole: you don't need a funeral to have one. It's an old favorite whether it's winter or summer--I just love a good casserole.

What brought me to this faux tuna casserole: the "Copenhagen Casserole" was, of course, the climate summit this past week--and the hours of news coverage it deservedly received. After braving the mall Friday (okay, not the most "green" way to behave, but I had a Border's coupon burning a hole in my wallet)--I came home ravished. I craved a casserole: tuna casserole. Alas, what is a vegan to do? I'll tell you what she's to do: get cooking, sister! So I did.


Through the many hours of news coverage, I was experiencing extra anxiety about our future. I'll be honest, thinking about climate change and mother earth is not something I do every single day. Grant it, being a vegan very much makes a difference in the impact our family has on the carbon footprint we bear. We keep our thermostat really low in the winter, too--thus the constant knitting I do to keep warm! We compost our summer veggies. We re-use almost every bag and newspaper we have--I use much of my newspaper in my spring garden--it acts as a weed barrier. I've converted our most-used light bulbs to those "less energy" bulbs. Gardening also helps defray the multitude of sins we accrue from our trips to and from the store to buy produce from Australia and California. I feel we do what we can. It's hard for me to imagine a world without polar bears.

My little secret in this dish is my good friend arame seaweed. Arame is a sea vegetable/algae hand harvested and dried--it sort of looks like dried brown twigs when you first remove it from its package. It is one of the more milder seaweeds--so if you want to introduce a friend to this, start here. It's a wonderful addition to soups--sea-types. You need to soak it in hot water before using it. Then use the water you've soaked it in to cook with. It re-hydrates and imparts this beautiful texture to your dish. It is a wonderful source of calcium, zinc and iodine. You can get it at Whole Foods in the seaweed section--seriously. I love this stuff. I love it's smell, I love how it flavors my "chicken of the sea" old favorite. This ingredient list is long, but this comes together rather quickly! And totally worth the effort!

Copenhagen Casserole

1/2 package of orecchiette pasta, cooked per directions (or bow ties would work well)
1/2 cup dried arame
1 cup boiling water
1 package tempeh
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
6 baby bella mushrooms sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
3 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter
1 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
2 tablespoons soy sour cream *optional
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
couple shakes of dried parsley
1 tablespoon vegan parmesean
1 cup blue corn taco shells crumbled
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400. Oil a casserol dish--8" or 9" oval or round--whatever you have. First, place the arame with boiling water in a heat resistant glass measuring cup--set aside for 15 minutes. Cook your pasta, drain and set aside. Next, place a medium suacepan filled with about 4 cups of water on medium heat and place sliced up tempeh (cut in long strips--about five or six) in to boil for about 15 minutes. (This removes that bitter taste tempeh can have.) Next, prep your veggies. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan and add celery, onions and garlic. Next, add mushrooms. Let simmer for about 15 minutes--be careful to watch it. Drain the tempeh. Cut into 1" pieces and place in pan with onions and all--toss a bit to allow the tempeh to get a little brown. Add seasonings. Add the arame and liquid. Now, add frozen peas and corn. Add the remaining ingredients--flour, nutritional yeast, soy milk, butter. Bring to a simmer. If the mixture looks too dry, add more milk and keep stirring until you reach your desired "sauce" portion. I also found that pouring a little soy milk over the casserole prior to baking helps create a bit more sauce. Mix well. Now add the pasta to the pan and toss all ingredients together. Pour into baking dish. Now, make the topping. Crush the blue corn chips with the panko crumbs and then spread over the top of the casserole. Sprinkle with some vegan parm and bake, uncovered for 30 minutes (or until the top begins to brown). Remove from oven and sprinkle with a bit of dried parsley and serve!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vegan Shoo-Fly Christmas Cookies

Shoo-fly? Here's how this cookie came to be. My hubby and I were watching Pushing Daisies on DVD--a great "canceled" TV show (the great ones always go away). If you are unfamiliar with this show--let me just tell you that the main character is a pie maker, the second character is a beekeeper (I once had bees, but they flew the coup and left their hive), and third, a burly male detective who just so happens to knit. So all parts of this fits into my life quite nicely--pies, bees, knitting. During one episode, a Shoo-fly pie made an appearance. My husband looked at me and said, Did they say 'shoo-fly?' What the heck is shoo-fly? Well, I just smiled and got busy the next day making some shoo-fly of my own as a surprise!

As you know by now, I am willing to try nearly every recipe there is and make it vegan. Lucky for me, this cookie was in one of my heirloom cookbooks that belonged to my mother: Cooking from Quilt Country by Marcia Adams. I think the title of this book says it all. (And we aren't talking California cuisine here folks)--it is all foods straight from the heartland of America! Yum! Amish and Mennonite kitchens mostly--from the folks who are the salt of the earth and who know the value of good food and passing along wonderful recipes. My mother instilled in me the appreciation of the Amish--when, on many of our visits to their towns, she'd almost always remind me how grateful I should be that we have electricity and cars. . . and I was.


The origins of the shoo-fly comes to us from Pennsylvania. It is a soft gingerbread that is cooked in a pastry crust. The cookie shell itself is made with a "hot water" pie crust. I had never made a crust using boiling water. I will from now on--such an easy and wonderful crust! The gingerbread layers are made from a molasses syrup base layered with a crumb mixture in between. From a holiday perspective, this cookie takes top honors as it combines the best of the seasonings for this time of year. I added my own twist to this recipe--increasing the seasonings for the crumb base and increasing the amount of molasses for good measure. Oh, and no butter, but Earth Balance Butter and Shortening Sticks. You will surprise folks with this as it is a terrific, little-known cookie. I had one mishap in my making of this cookie. I added 1 cup of Earth Balance--the recipe called for 3/4 cup. I didn't make the catch until I had made my layers and placed it in the oven for about five minutes. Being a woman of iron will and all--I just mixed up another 1/4 cup of flour with the same amount of brown sugar and swilred it in the already beginning to heat cookie. I crossed my fingers and re-set the timer. All's well that ends well--it was just fine!

Boiling Water Pie Crust

2 sticks (or 1 cup) of Earth Balance Shortening
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup boiling water

Take the shortening and chop it into pieces and let it set in a bowl for about 20 minutes--to bring to room temperature. Next, add salt. Take a fork or other mixing device and mush up the shortening really well after it has softened. Pour the boiling water over it and mix with hand blender to combine. Allow mixture to sit and come to room temperature--about 15 or so minutes. Add the flour and form mixture into a ball. It will come together quickly. Set this in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Now, move on to prepping the filling.

Vegan Shoo-Fly Christmas Cookies

1 batch boiling water pie crust
1/4 plus 1/8 cup molasses
1/8 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water
Crumb Top
1 1/2 sticks (or 3/4 cup) Earth Balance Butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly oil an glass 9 x 13 baking dish. Pyrex would work well. Roll out the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap--to about the size of the baking dish and then some. Place the dough into the baking dish, then flatten it out so that it comes up the sides and reaches the top. Crimp the top edges to keep the crust from creeping down during baking--it is not a huge deal if it does creep down a bit, but just try to not let it happen. Mix the crumb mixture in a food processor. Next, in a bowl, add the syrups, baking soda and boiling water. Mix well. Now, pour 1/2 cup of the wet liquid into the pie shell, then sprinkle about a third of the crumb mixture over this. Repeat two more times. Place in oven and bake for about 35 minutes. The top will begin to be a bit golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cut the cookies into 1" pieces and place in an air tight container and set in the fridge. *I think these cookies are best served a little cool vs. at room temperature.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

January: New Year--Go Vegan And Feel Better! (A 21-Day Kickstart Plan)

Say you don't know where to begin. . . Food for thought.


A Vegan Thyme post that is a bit preachy, a bit sassy, and yes, a bit about food--browse away if you are not in the mood for this. If so, read on--and learn about the Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine's 21-Day Vegan Kickstart program!

Yesterday the January magazines began to arrive--guess what their covers show? You got it--Eat Less, Feel Better. . . NOW! More folks at the gyms--great! More folks out walking, (or better yet, running)--great! More folks turning to diets and excercise, period. Great! But are these folks considering a vegan diet as well? Less likely, but my hope is that this is about to change. Those slick magazine covers of peeled carrots and soup will also be accomapnied by commercials for "lap bands" (seriously, a rubber band implanted around your stomach? Okay, Ew.) and other weight loss vodoo hype. I suppose that is better than the ten pounder burger and buckets of lard commercials. H-e-l-l-o. . . Eat a vegan diet and not only will you feel better, but you will have a multitude of other healthy side benefits, one being--you may just see a slimmer YOU! But don't go vegan and sit on the couch all day eating tons of vegan food--no diet plan will be effective if you are not active (and still have a propensity to overindulge--there are meeting groups for that). Just. Get. Up. And. Move.

As a woman in her middle of life, I am lucky in that I've been a runner since I was 14. I started in track, then moved on to cross country. Out of all the activities I've begun in my life--this one has never left, never let me down, and has always given me joy. I am so lucky I can run. Fitting in any type of excercise will, I believe, make you a better person. And, I'm luckier still that I'm vegan. I've been blogging about being a vegan now for about six months. Remember, I was vegetarian for 13 years, then converted to veganism over a year ago. When I set out to begin this blog--my first intention was to begin to document the wonderful vegan meals we were enjoying in this house. I was like, wow, this is so easy, it's great food, I don't feel deprived, and OH, nothing was killed to have to feed me--even better! I wanted my main focus to be "vegan dinners" especially. Out of all the cooking I do, I sometimes found planning the perfect vegan dinner the most challenging. Vegan baking and vegan lunch--not so much. I know by now you have probably figured out I am vegan for moral reasons as well.

After reading Eating Animals by Jonathon Safran Foer, I will never place another living thing in my mouth again. I highly recommend this book. Don't live an ignorant life and sit at the buffet table grabbing parts of an animal and justify it because really naming what your are eating would turn more stomachs than it would encourage eating them. And no, eating chicken is NOT vegetarian, okay! And.. . . the horrors this animal suffers all in the name of "food" is probably the greatest and saddest of them all (next to turkeys). The book brought me to tears several times, it is a hard book to digest in one sitting. It took me a few weeks and lots of post-it notes to get through it. If you think our factory farming is the best answer to our food supply, you have another thing or two coming. And now with developing countries seeing a demand for animal protein, the problem of animal abuse and inhumane killing practices for food will, unfortunately, also see a rise.

Here is a suggestion for those of you maybe reading vegan blogs and "thinking" about becoming a vegan, or better yet, at least being a bit more curious about your eating choices. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is launching a 21-Day Vegan Kickstart program. Your diet change ideas could begin here. Or maybe you've begun your diet changes and are reading this blog to get inspired--that's cool, too. (Oh, and thanks!) I just want to offer you reputable resources for seeking out plant-based eating options--and reasons for doing so.

Okay, I think that is all I want to say on the matter for today. But be warned, between now and whenever, you might see a post or two like this--in between my mahvelous, yummy vegan dishes for you to try!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Vegan Blueberry Pancakes

This is my plate--full of syrup and stacked three-high! Delish!

I wouldn't call myself a morning person. I tend to not want to talk a lot then either--writing is okay. (This was a huge challenge in an office of "morning people".) By eleven, I am usually feeling human. I also tend to not eat a "breakfast"--most days, I subsist on a banana smeared with peanut butter and my cup of coffee. But this morning I was reading the New York Times and found a recipe for Oatmeal Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes by Martha Rose Shulman. I own several of her cookbooks--she is a great inspiration for me. When I saw the recipe though I thought well, I have had some recipes for blueberry pancakes turn out well, and I have had some turn out really badly. I was interested in trying this one out because I happen to love blueberries--but again, with caution, because not all vegan translations work out they way you want them to. (And why I have not done a post on blueberries yet is beyond me--next summer, perhaps.)

Anyway, my husband can be a picky morning eater, too. He loves a peanut butter and pickle sandwich (not my cup of tea, however, it is what he had as a youngster and still loves today). I have to watch my pancake making with him because this can really be a point of contention if the recipe I make does not meet his "memories of Bisquick" pancakes. I am not a fan of the B. It became a staple when I was growing up when our food funds ran low--it brings back not-so-fond memories. So, I try to indulge my mornings once in a very great while with a "from scratch" breakfast item. (Waffles are a different story.)

I loved this veganized version of Martha's pancake. I made the usual vegan changes--no egg, use soy milk. I also added some ground flax seed and a pinch of cinnamon to the recipe. Then, about 1/4 cup of spelt flour. You can play with this recipe in many ways. The reason I say that is--it is sometimes a challenge to get a non-vegan pancake recipe to vegan-ize well. I don't know why, it just is. So, you might need to try and re-try (like with my brownies), however, I thought these were wonderful! When my husband saw the blueberries as he stumbled into the kitchen, he went, Oh. I said, okay, no blueberries for you--and made him a few sans the berries. He felt the pancakes needed some extra cooking time owing to the fact that to him, the center felt a bit undercooked. I thought that might have something to do with the fact that there is a half cup of oats mixed with milk in the recipe. He is not a fan, nor will he ever be a fan, of cooked cereal in any way, shape or form. But to me, they tasted perfect! Follow the heating instructions--remember, you need a hot griddle for pancake making!

Vegan Blueberry Pancakes

1 1/2 cups soy milk
1 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons of Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 4 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground flax seed
1/4 cup spelt flour
1 tablespoon Florida Crystals or Turbinado Sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup soy milk
some frozen blueberries to top the pancake with

Mix the 1 1/2 cup of soy milk with the apple cider vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside (making your vegan buttermilk). Next, prepare your Egg Replacer and set aside. Then, take the 1/2 cup of soy milk and mix with the oats--set aside. Whisk your dry ingredients together (spelt flour, wheat flour, AP flour, cinnamon, baking power, baking soda, ground flax seed, salt and sugar). Next, take the "buttermilk" mixture and add this, along with vanilla and Egg Replacer mix to the dry ingredients. Mix with a spoon--just until it is sort of all mixed--do not over mix--lumps are okay. Next, add the oats and milk mixture--just carefully add this to it and mix lightly. Martha suggests you allow the batter to sit in the fridge for an hour. I gave it 30 minutes and it was fine. It would also be okay to mix this the night before. Heat a non-stick griddle with a little non-stick spray. (I think it is an important step because there is nothing worse than a stuck pancake!). Place about a 1/3 cup of batter per pancake on the griddle and spread out with the back of a spoon to ensure roundness. Drop about 5-8 blueberries per pancake on top of the batter (or not, for the blueberry averse). Allow pancake to show bubbles on the top of the batter before you flip it. Once the top is covered with bubbles, it should be okay to flip. Cook an additional 2 minutes or so on the other side--just watch the coloration and doneness--test the middle with the point of a knife to be sure. Remove from griddle and keep warm in the oven or serve immediately or, better yet, you can also freeze these after they've cooled and re-heat in the microwave. Top with tons of syrup! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vegan Chicken-less N' Dumplings with Millet, Sunflower and Flax Bread

Mmmm. . . chicken-less n' dumplings!

I have read that if you bake bread prior to a storm or when a low front is coming through--your bread will rise more. . . I'd say this bread loaf rose perfectly!

I set my machine on "medium crust color" and was really pleased with it's golden hue and nice crunch to the crust--not too dry, but just right.

This is a carbohydrate addict's dream dinner! Vegan Chicken-less N' Dumplings with a great homemade bread: Millet, Sunflower and Flax--and even better--made in my bread machine (probably the second most used and most favorite kitchen appliance next to my stove)! I went through my vintage cookie baking yesterday and then turned to some down home re-creations of food I like to classify as "the good stuff." A side of bread may seem like overkill, but honestly, this is how you eat in the South--bread on the side. . . with everything. And what is not to love about a dumpling? Hold it. I never liked dumplings as a youngster--who am I kidding? I met many I disliked, just like I met many of those so-called pot pies I disliked (and was sent to my room for not liking--thanks a lot Stouffer's). So, I was in the mood for a throw back recipe, must have been the moon or the lack thereof. We suffered through like a two hour thunderstorm last night--made the windows shake in my little house. What's not to love about living in the middle of the country when you can have ice one week, then a thunderstorm the next?

So vegan chicken-less n' dumplings were in order. This is a recipe that doesn't require a lot of "special ingredients"--you probably have these items on hand in your pantry. Personally, I have several recipes for this meal scattered throughout my cookbook collection. I created this from a smattering of ideas. I went from the Joy of Cooking, Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry (which is a vegan delight to own!), to Martha Stewart to coming up with my own take on the recipe. I am not a "boiled dumpling" sort of gal, in fact that idea of a boiled dumpling sort of makes me ill. So I had to find an alternative to that whole concept. I found the cornmeal dumpling to be my answer. Then there was the question of the protein I would use--I went with tempeh. I like to work with it once in a while, but not often--it works nicely in this dish. If you are not into tempeh, maybe try tofu or seitan. The results will be the same. I think my recipe and method worked very well--and for those lover's of leftovers--we just had this for lunch today and it rocked.

I have one photo of this because once the spoon enters the picture, that's all she wrote--there is only so much the camera can do for a dish like this. Either you want it, or you don't--but I thought I'd share my take on this southern delicacy. Along side we enjoyed the most amazing bread I think I have ever made in my bread machine--and want to give great thanks for the idea of the bread to: The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger. You've seen her name in my blog before--I heart Beth's breads! I made modifications to the ingredients and added flax seed--I think all breads benefit from a bit of flax.

Vegan Chicken-less N' Dumplings
*dumpling recipe below

For the tempeh:
1 block tempeh
3 tablespoons sunflower or safflower oil
3 tablespoons tamari
For the onion mixture:
1 onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
2 celery stalks sliced thin
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Spike or S & P to taste
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
dash of good Italian seasoning
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups veggie stock
2 tabelspoons corn starch
4 tablespoons water
1/3 cup white cooking wine
3 tablespoons Earth Balance Butter

First,  prep your tempeh. Place a small pan of water and add the tempeh to it--slice the tempeh into long pieces about 6 of them. Bring the water with tempeh to boil, then turn to medium and let simmer for about ten minutes. Drain the tempeh. Chop it into about 1" pieces. Add oil and tamari to it. Let it set for about 10 minutes to marinate. (Chop your veggies up now or something to pass the time.) Place the tempeh in a small skillet with about 2 tablespoons of oil and cook, turning often to brown it. When it is cooked, remove it from the heat and set aside. Next, add your oil to either a dutch oven or a large saute pan with deep sides. Add veggies. Cook until onions and carrots begin to soften--about five minutes. Add seasonings. Now, add veggie broth and white cooking wine. Let simmer while you remove the tempeh from the saute pan. Place tempeh into the veggie mixture. The liquid should have reduced a bit by now. In a small bowl, whisk the water and soy milk into the corn starch until starch is dissolved. Now, slowly drizzle this into the veggie pan. The mixture will begin to thicken. If you think it is getting too thick, add more broth to your desired consistency. Now, whisk in the Earth Balance one tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Turn heat to low or off while you make the dumplings.

Cornmeal Dumplings

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
dash of dried Italian seasonings--not a lot
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons Earth Balance Butter
2/3 cup unsweetened soy milk

Place all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Now, chop up your Earth Balance pieces. Add to the bowl and cut into the flour with a fork. Get it pretty crumbly. Next, add the milk. Mix well--but don't over mix. Now, take a tablespoon of the mixture (it will be semi-runny) and drop by teaspoonful on top of the veggies in pan. If they are cooled, reheat a bit and bring heat to medium. Have lid ready for covering to allow dumplings to bake. If you'd like a lot of dumplings, you will end up using most of the batter. Just eyeball it--and cover and leave undisturbed on medium heat for about 15 minutes. If you hear bubbling and find that the pan is too small (like I did) and drippings are boiling over--just turn the heat down and allow for a longer steaming time for the dumplings. I served this in a bowl with our bread!

Millet, Sunflower and Flax Bread
*for a 1 1/2 lb. loaf of bread in a bread machine

1 1/8 cup of water (80 degrees)
3 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons safflower oil
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons millet (soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes, then drained and mixed in with flours)
2 teaspoons ground flax seed
1/4 cup polenta or corn meal
3 tablespoons sunflowers
1 1/2 teaspoon vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 active dry yeast

Add ingredients according to your bread machine directions. Most say to add liquids first, then place all dry ingredients in a bowl, sift together, then carefully pour over wet ingredients. Then last, add the yeast and press start. I used the Whole Wheat program for mine.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Vegan Bachelor Buttons (Vintage Baking from Grandma)

Delicious and perfect--vegan recreation of grandma's Christmas cookie: The Bachelor Buttons!

I would have had more of these cooling, but several were consumed!

My grandmother's handwritten recipe. Priceless.
I got to thinking about this cookie when the weather turned bitter cold this past week--45 m.p.h. winds accompanying temperatures in the teens. My holiday urges began to creep in. Not the urges that lead to "shopping"--but the urge to bake. My grandmother used to bake this cookie every Christmas. I loved it--moist, sweet, a bit salty and then, topped with that cherry that I love so much. I used to hide them for future eating excursions. I would lurk about in the kitchen as the rolling and pressing and baking was taking place. I would pluck the maraschino cherries in my mouth like they were potato chips--I was in heaven. I loved to watch my grandma bake. After my mother passed away, my sister and I were in the house looking through, what else--the kitchen. She said, It just makes sense for you to have mom's recipes--you're the cook. So I took them. Unbeknownst to me, hidden between my mom's recipe cards were my grandmother's hand written recipes. I felt like I had just uncovered a sacred scroll or something. Old, yellow, and some really worn or stained with oils--but preserved nonetheless.(Thankfully not in shorthand, as she was once a secretary and known for her shorthand curves and dots.)

A search on the origin of this cookie turned up little to nothing--though some noted it was said to have been appealing to bachelors, thus spinsters would often bake them. My grandma, was in fact, a spinster--but a darn good one given she had a country club membership and lived pretty nicely for a widow.

I have, of course, made this a vegan cookie (sorry grandma!). But this is a very, very good replica if I don't say so myself! I love this cookie with all of its nutty goodness and, the best part--topped with a cherry!
To get some of the yolk look I recalled--I added just a smidge of tumeric--and it does not affect the flavor one single bit--it may even enhance it! I hope you try these and share them. The recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen--probably would make more, but I ate a lot of dough!

Vegan Bachelor Buttons

1 stick (1/2 cup) Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) Earth Balance Shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon of Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of tumeric (*optional, but I added it for a bit of color)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or non--your call)
1 jar maraschino cherries
extra chopped pecans to roll in--just about 3 tablespoons should work

Preheat oven to 375. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Mix your Egg Replacer and set aside.
Take about 1/3 cup of maraschino cherries and drain them, then, cut them in half. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add the vegan butter and shortening and chop up really well with a knife. Then, add brown sugar. This can get messy, but just follow along. Go ahead and try to mix this together with your hand blender. As it begins to piece up more--add the Egg Replacer--this will then help it blend more smoothly. Now add the vanilla extract, mix well with blender. Next, place all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.
Add dry ingredients to wet and mix in with your hands or a wooden spoon until mixture begins to form a dough. Next, stir in coconut and then pecans. Place extra pecans on a plate. Roll about a teaspoonful of dough into 1" balls and then roll a bit in the pecans. Not necessarily to completely cover them, but just enough to add a nice touch. Place on cookie sheet and with your pinky or finger, press a hole into the dough--but not all the way through the cookie. Take a half maraschino cherry and place in the hole. Space the cookies out about 2 inches. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool about 2 minutes. Place on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

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