Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vegan Raisin Bran Muffins (And. . . Why Book Stores Matter)

Nothing keeps me full and satisfied like eating cardboard for breakfast. I am not a newbie to the "fiber" trend. I have always believed that if you ate wood chips for breakfast, you'd not want more wood chips the rest of the day. And this is pretty much how I roll when it comes to baking with bran: the bulkier, the better. I've had these muffins for breakfast now for the past four days. I can attest to their sticks-to-your-ribs quality. They are superb for keeping the mid afternoon cravings at bay, but I cannot promise you will dodge the four-o'clock munchies.
I had a chance encounter yesterday afternoon at Borders. Sigh. I am incredibly sad about the closing of one of my most favorite places to shop, browse, decompress, recover from stress spots. It is a bittersweet ending. I am trying to get as much use out of my rewards card as I can before they "cut me off". Anyway, I have been on a raw food kick lately, as well. At least I think I am. I bought myself a juicer and have felt compelled to try to keep myself within the acceptable weight range I can live with. (I'd welcome fifteen pounds less--but that's just my eating disorder talking and I try to keep her locked in the closet as much as possible.) So, yesterday I was browsing the vegan books and was joined by another vegan browser. As a vegan, you KNOW this is rare. Here we both were--this woman and I--staring, picking up, putting down, walking back around the next aisle of books thinking the next cookbook we just HAD to have was going to leap out, jump in our arms and be the answer to all the dinner problems we've ever faced. Then she turned to ask whether I was a vegan or a raw foodie. Typically I'd ignore this moment of silence-breaking and give a smirky grin and nod or something, then walk away to the "crafts" area until the coast was clear and I could once again enjoy my daily dose of "browsing" in the cookbooks. But this time I actually spoke. I said, "Why, yes I am. You?" To which she promptly began to share her vegan story with me citing that it had been a miracle for her. She'd lost 45 pounds. She has not been sickly and her cholesterol and blood pressure have all come down. I beamed as she talked thinking, Can we get a mega-phone over here, PLEASE! What a great story! I congratulated her and said how nice it was to meet a fellow-vegan, and better yet, sort of a newbie vegan into the fold. She also mentioned she'd like to do more with raw, then asked me about raw foods. I had to be honest and say, Well, I sort of like cake too much to become too much of a raw foodie, but I aspire to do more and more raw when it's 120 degrees outside. She asked about a dehydrator and about drying in the oven. I suggested she take her food and set it outside on a table because she'd get the same results. We both laughed. I made a few suggestions for her growing book collection. She thanked me and I left. What a great feeling! Another vegan-raw foodie.

Which brings me to my thoughts on book stores. Losing another "space" where walls and walls of possibilities surrounds you is a travesty to me. I read a story a few weeks back--I think it was in the NYT, of this Rhodes Scholar who was accepted into the program, but admitted to NEVER having read a book. He felt he'd gleaned enough information through his "browsing" and studying on the internet. I was appalled. What in the world is happening here?! I'm not a Luddite by any stretch, I love my technology as much as one who was not raised with more than four television stations growing up--but not reading a book. . . ever?!

There is a room in our home where there is nothing but books, a sewing machine and a treadmill. Hundreds of books. (My past undergrad work, cookbooks that are out of kitchen circulation, casual reading fiction, non-fiction plus Dr. Thyme's collection of Sci-fi and other pointy-head reading stuff that I'll never be able to get my head around). I've hemmed and hawed over culling our collection on more than one occasion. About once a year, I'll purge a few from the piles. But now I suppose these stacks of books will have to serve as my "retreat" in lieu of my favorite book store closing. Books will make a comeback. That's my firm belief.

So these muffins are pretty darn good. They will keep your appetite and blood sugar levels in check better than say, a cinny bun or a bowl of Lucky Charms. I thought I'd share this recipe I adapted from a favorite cookbook I got from my favorite bookstore a while back: Sarabeth's Bakery by Sarabeth Levine.  

Vegan Raisin Bran Muffins
*Makes 10 Texas-Sized muffins

1 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 2/3 cup wheat bran (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 sticks (or ten tablespoons) of unsalted vegetable margerine
1/4 cup Florida Crystals sugar (pulsed in a food processor to make it finer)
1/3 cup agave nectar
2 eggs (3 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 4 tablepoons of water)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 1/4 cup raisins (or dried apricots or cranberries--whatever you have on hand)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (*optional)

Preheat the oven to 400. Spray the muffin tins. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside. Take the margerine and place in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and beat until the margerine is light and creamy. Add the sugar and blend until the sugar mixture is light and airy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and keep mixing for about five minutes. Now, add the egg replacer mixture and agave. Mix well--about another minute. Next, add a third of the dry ingredients and half the milk--mix until blended well. Then, add another third of the flour mixture again, and the second half of the milk, finally ending with the last third of the flour mixture. Mix until the batter is somewhat smooth, about thirty seconds more. Fold in the raisins. Using an ice cream scoop or large quarter cup measuring cup, fill the muffin tins about 1/2 full. Bake muffins for 10 minutes, THEN, reduce the oven temp to 375 and continue baking about another 10-15 minutes (until the tops of the muffins begin to brown or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean). Remove from oven and allow muffins to cool in pan for about ten minutes and then carefully remove from pans, place muffins on wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temp.  



6 comments:

  1. These look awesome!! Didn't know you were doing more raw stuff! I accumulate raw books but still haven't kicked the cooked. Sad about Borders.....haven't made it over there yet. Glad to hear you guys liked the eggplant! I think I am eating MORE in this heat simply because I won't go outside and divert my attention! Are you sure you aren't going to open a bakery?

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  2. I agree with you about the loss of book stores. It is tragic. I hate it. But, I so enjoyed reading about your chance meeting with another vegan and hearing her wonderful story. :-)

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  3. I mourn the loss of our bookstores as well, and even more so for the smaller independent stores. It's so sad to see these places where we can actually connect with others in "real life", instead of online, disappearing. I do hope you're right about books making a comeback!

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  4. I hate to see book stores close. Thankfully, we have a great independent store in Austin that has been staying strong for the past 30 years. These muffins look so good too. I would love to eat one of these and sit down with my book. Thank you for sharing!

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  5. Hi There Y'all! Love the comments and thank you always! Glad we are all like-minded bookish folks! I baked these muffins four days ago and am still enjoying them in the sweltering heat of the morning, with a bit of melted vegan margerine spread on top. Not exactly a 'raw' menu item, but yummy nonetheless!

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  6. Um, better than raw :) I went GF in the last year & more of less sugar free because I am just getting to be an old fart, but I LOVE looking at all of your amazing baked goods. And you do need a bakery!! I ran into someone yesterday at Borders too, but he was looking for Raw Books. He was going from a regular diet to Raw. Then he started talking about how he heard nuts could be acidic & that he realized that (I think this is what he said) cooked food was poison. So....sigh! :) I love raw stuff too but sometimes the weirdness of recent or even longterm converts freaks me out!! IF I ever go all raw I want to be a "fun" raw foodist. Oh, and I guess you AREN"T into doing bioidentical estrogen?? Sorry to hear about all the hormonal stuff. Hormones are CRAZY and can make or break ya-had some very harrowing experiences when trying to quit BCPs cold tofurky after 20 some years...........YIKES. Then started reading like mad about all of it and had one vegan gal here that got me started on some good authors & told me about her experiences when she hit 40's.
    Enjoy your awesome muffins!!

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