Monday, August 5, 2013

Vegan Carrot Molasses Muffins for Babies. And Everyone Else.


Well hello there. Remember me? I used to post recipes weekly and then I had a baby and all hell broke loose. But, you know, that was over nine months ago now. And everything is starting to feel sort of normal again. Milo (that's him up there, in case you didn't recognize him on account of his giantness and up-right posture) can now eat real food and crawl and sit by himself and chase the dogs and cats around. Which frees up a tiny bit of my time. Time that can be used to cook and photograph food and write about it. I don't promise a regular posting schedule, but I'm willing to give it a try.


And what else would I leap back into blogging with, but a muffin recipe? It seems my son has inherited my often-mocked love of muffins. The Man of Science, who is taking his share of the parental leave now that I am back to work, has in fact telephoned me at my office to report that Milo is "definitely my son" as he watches him shove muffins into his mouth at lunch time.

This recipe is baby-friendly because it has no refined sugar in it and has some vegetables and fruit in there for good measure. Plus, I'm all about getting as much iron into that kid as possible, and molasses helps with that mission. The recipe itself is a riff on this one from Cate's World Kitchen. It turned out so well the MoS and I ate our fair share of these before Milo was even finished with his nap. "I should have made a double batch," I said, with my mouth full. Next time.


Carrot Molasses Muffins

Makes 32 mini-muffins
(but would probably work just fine for grown up muffins if you increased the cooking time by five minutes.)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup kamut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
a pinch of nutmeg (I did a few passes over the Microplane grater with some fresh nutmeg)

2 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 6 tbsp water
1 apple, peeled and Microplaned
1 carrot, Microplaned
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed until it's liquid

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a mini-muffin tin.

Whisk all dry ingredients together, set aside.

Whisk all wet ingredients together (including apple and carrot. Are they "wet"? Well, for these purposes, let's say they are.)

Add wet ingredients to dry ones. Mix with a wooden or silicone spatula.

Put one tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup.

Bake 15 minutes or until they are firm.

Let cool and share with a dog. Or three.


Some Notes:

-Do you know about the Vegan Package Swap? It brings the excitement of discovering new vegan products from far away lands right to your doorstep! I just signed up! I'm so excited!

-Are you watching Masterchef Australia? I am! It is on every night, which is so comforting. Especially because it removes my need to make a decision about what to watch when I clean up at night. It is still my favourite of all the cooking shows, even though I am not remotely Australian. Well I guess I could be classed as "remotely" Australian, given that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law (and dogs-in-law) live there and the Parents of Science spend a lot of time there. That probably counts as "remotely".

-I just spent five minutes trying to figure out who in my neighbourhood was yelling their head off and then it turned out it was just the Man of Science playing XBox in the basement. Which was kind of a relief. But around here someone is usually yelling at someone else anyway, regardless. And the Ottawa U students aren't even back yet!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

I Made This Gluten-Free Apple Pie With Coconut Milk Whipped Cream Because I Am Awesome

Gluten-Free Apple Pie with Coconut Whipped Cream

I probably haven't mentioned yet that the Man of Science and I have a new, excellent roommate. (Our new house has a basement "suite" with its own nice bedroom, bathroom, and kitchenette.) Like everyone who realizes how much money they're paying for their new house, we thought it would be prudent to rent out space in our home to someone we know and trust. Which is how we ended up with the incomparable Meghan Dailey as our brand new roommate/hairdresser-on-demand/expert-baby-holder.

GF crust

Meghan doesn't eat any gluten or dairy, and she's a really "clean" eater in general, so when I wanted to make her a treat this weekend, I started doing a bit of research about gluten-free pie. I didn't want to get into the whole xantham gum zone, so I went with a nut crust. Pecans to be exact. The crust was super-easy to make and stood up very well in the long run.

crust binder

The pie itself was sweetened only with maple syrup, and so it fit well with Meghan's clean eatin' lifestyle. The Man of Science, Meghan, and I sat down to a nice dinner tonight (with a baby blissfully napping for exactly how long it took us to get through a plate of food) and for the first time in a long time I felt like a Normal Human Adult Person. We take it where we can get it.

Speaking of dinner and babies, a few people have asked me how I manage to still cook dinner every night when caring for an infant. Here's how:

ready to bake

Milo really likes this sling, and I can get a few good hours of cooking accomplished if I just wear him. It's a bit hard on my body if I do it for too long, but I love the freedom it gives me to get things done with both hands. I was thinking today that when he's a rambunctious toddler I'll probably long for the days when I could just pop him in the sling and do some chores. Or make a pie.


Gluten-Free Apple Pie


21/2 cups whole pecans
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 tbsp Earth Balance coconut spread, melted
1 tsp maple syrup

Process the pecans, baking soda, and salt in a food processor until the nuts are very crumbly, then mix in the other ingredients.

Press the crust evenly into a regular sized pie plate or tart pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.


Six apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp agar agar

In a medium bowl, mix the chopped apples with all other ingredients until everything is evenly mixed.

Pour apple filling into crust, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes-1 hour or until apples are tender.

gluten free apple pie

Oh, and maybe you're wondering about that superb looking vegan whipped cream? It's actually the best vegan whipped cream recipe I've ever eaten and it was also the easiest to make. The recipe is from the Oh She Glows blog and you just need to read this post and do everything Angela tells you to. I was doubtful at first but I am now a zealous convert. This stuff is amazing.

Gluten-Free Apple Pie with Coconut Whipped Cream

I should end with a piece of useful information or a witty joke, but it's 9:30 PM which means I need to put that baby to bed and get to bed myself so I can be a functioning person tomorrow. You can go enjoy your pie without me.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Leftover Mashed Potatoes, For The Win

potato pancakes and kale

Perhaps, like me, you have someone in your house who really loves mashed potatoes. In my case, the Man of Science will basically eat mashed potatoes until he explodes. So when I make mashed potatoes, I tend to make a lot of them. This means that if the MoS manages to reign in his enthusiastic eating of said potatoes, we end up with leftovers. And what's the best thing to make with those leftovers if it's a Saturday morning and you want to have a big, weekend breakfast? Mashed potato pancakes. They aren't hard to make at all. Here, I'll give you some tips:

First, attempt to distract any small humans who might demand your attention and interrupt your cooking.


Then mix two parts mashed potatoes with one part flour (I used spelt) and add one flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seeds plus three tbsp warm water) for every cup of flour. It will look like a pasty, gloppy mess, but press on! If you don't mind getting a little gucky, you can mix this with your bare hands. Otherwise a rubber spatula or wooden spoon will work. You'll end up with a mixture that resembles bread dough, not a pourable batter like conventional pancakes. 


Heat up a cast iron or non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Maybe you have an awesome new stove that you'd like to use? Maybe it has big red knobs and gas burners and is the greatest non-human, non-pet thing you've ever lived with. Ahem. Pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Use a neutral oil, like safflower or canola. 


Distraction techniques have failed. Put that baby in a sling so you can keep both hands free for cooking. It's just like a womb. He'll fall asleep immediately. Heat your oven to 200 degrees if you aren't going to eat the potato pancakes right away. Also, lay two layers of paper towel or one thick tea towel out on the counter so you can drain some of the oil from the finished pancakes. 


Roll the dough into 2 tbsp balls with your hands (wet them first if you don't want the dough to stick) and flatten them into pancakes. Drop these into the oil and fry for approximately three minutes on each side, until they are golden and crispy. For some reason it helps if you stab a chopstick through the middle of each pancake while it's cooking. I have no idea why, it just makes for a more appealing texture for the whole thing. When they've finished cooking, let them sit on the paper towel for a minute or two to get rid of excess oil. 

potato pancakes

If you want to take additional time to make a (sadly mediocre) hash of kale and tempeh bacon to accompany your pancakes, just spread them out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and put them in your 200 degree oven to keep them warm. This should also keep them from getting soggy before you can eat them. Season with salt and pepper before you serve. And if that baby woke you up three times last night, you'll probably want to serve this meal with lots of caffeinated beverages. 

potato pancakes and kale

I used two cups of mashed potatoes and one cup of flour for this, and ended up with a dozen pancakes. You can vary the quantities of the ingredients and also the size of the individual pancakes if you like. Smaller pancakes are bound to end up crispier, which is how I like them. But if you like yours all soft inside, go ahead a make bigger ones. 

Then eat! Then go do something fun with your weekend! It's beautiful weather here, meant to be enjoyed. As all those creepy people on Game of Thrones say, "Winter is coming." 


Monday, October 29, 2012

Welcome, Milo

On the evening of October 15th, I realized that I was saying the word, "Yikes" every seven minutes.

If that happens, and you're 40 weeks pregnant, it means you're in labour. The thing about labour, though, is that in its early stages it often lasts for days.  I had a clinic appointment scheduled for the next afternoon which we kept. Contractions were still 7 minutes apart. They sent us home. Evening came. The Man of Science and all the pets went to sleep. I stayed up, saying "yikes" a little louder for a while, and eventually switching to profanities. I watched episodes of The Golden Girls in the bathtub. Eventually I just paced around the room. When the contractions were 5 minutes apart and I was in a lot of pain and slightly delirious from lack of sleep, I woke the MoS up and said it was time to go to the hospital.

At first they said they weren't even going to admit us, but then the nurse told me that the baby wasn't reacting well to my contractions. They admitted us, we called our doula, Danielle, and I made myself comfortable in the hospital bed.

A few hours later, we were still hanging out peacefully in the hospital room, expecting many, many more hours of labour. I was sitting on an exercise ball and chatting with Danielle. The Man of Science had gone home (with everyone's blessing) to walk the dogs. A nurse came in to check the baby's heartbeat. She couldn't find it. I was immediately uneasy because since the very early stages of his existence, this child's heartbeat had been easy to detect. Doppler machines, ultrasounds, whatever - the heartbeat was always there.

Within about two minutes I was, as I kept describing it to people, in the middle of a Gray's Anatomy episode. Bed flattened and being wheeled through hospital hallways with nurses and doctors running alongside, double doors flying open, mask pressed over my face while I very sincerely asked the nurse who was holding my hand, "Is my baby going to die?" She couldn't answer.

Eight minutes later, I was unconscious and Milo George was born via a very emergency cesarean section. Very much alive and completely healthy. All seven glorious pounds of him.

Since I was put completely under, so didn't know the full extent of what had happened until I woke up, hours later. As a precaution, Milo stayed in the neo-natal intensive care unit for the first few days of his life, but soon he was with us in our small hospital room. Since then we've all been together as a new family of three and Milo has been paying us back for his difficult birth by being a fairly easy baby. Knock on wood.

Now we are all home, learning how to live together and muddling happily through these first few weeks. I am healing slowly and taking things easy and counting my blessings. More in love with my two guys than I really ever thought anyone could be.

So lucky.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Canadian Thanksgiveganing: AKA Your Best Meal Ever

plate of awesome

When you are nine months pregnant and have just moved into a new house and some people offer to come to your house and bring you all the complicated parts of a vegan Thanksgiving dinner, you jump at that chance. Especially if those people are awesome, like Krishna and Magi, and if they also are going to bring their three dogs to make things into a real party.

As you can see from this photo, I am still quite pregnant. And hungry. So when Krishna and Magi (and Petunia, Bluebell, and Maya) arrived with a large, delicious seitan roast I was really excited. For my part I made some brussels sprouts (shredded with lemon and poppy seeds) and some mashed potatoes and gravy (miso based). We laid all the food out on my beautiful-vintage-sideboard-that-I'm-in-love-with and dug in. Wow, it was good.


Oh, and of course there was dessert. It didn't matter that we'd all had seconds of dinner (except for one of us who had thirds) (Magi) we were excited to dig into the pumpkin brulee custards that Krishna and Magi brought. They even borrowed a kitchen torch to fire them up properly. Now that's dedication. I think the recipe they used was this one of Dreena Burton's.

pumpkin brulee

I made a somewhat over-the-top and not at all healthy vegan cheesecake for the second dessert. It was "no bake" which meant a quick blend of all the ingredients in my nice Vitamix and the whole thing was  basically done. I've never actually made a vegan cheesecake with actual vegan cream cheese before, but this one was too good to resist, especially since it used some of the vegan Speculoos cookie butter that was burning a hole in my pantry.

Speculoos vegan cheesecake

The Man of Science, who is a big fan of cheesecake, declared immediately that this tasted like non-vegan (aka "real") cheesecake, and was quite excited about it. I haven't had cheesecake in years, but I have to say this certainly tasted the way I remember cheesecakes of yore tasting. I used Sheese brand cream cheese instead of Tofutti, which may have been the reason. I've never tried any of the Sheese cheeses before, but it was what the healthfood store had when I arrived, so I took my chances and lucked out. Everyone agreed that the desserts were the perfect end to the meal. 


All those photos were taken by Krishna (seen below with Petunia), whose camera was NOT out of battery power like mine was. She and I both wish we'd taken more photos of the six (six!) dogs who were in attendance. Well, there's always next time when we'll have six dogs and one new baby. Whenever that happens. I'll keep you all posted.