Vegan Twix

What with Halloween around the corner, it only makes sense that I would need to distract myself from the temptation of the many fun-sized, non-vegan treats that have been stockpiled for the bell ringers and door knockers of that dreaded eve.

Yes, sadly, cruelty-free treats are not dispensed. I don’t know, I guess I just feel like these youngsters palate’s should be treated to something familiar – plus I don’t want to get complaints from parents or worse still, my beloved jack-o-lanterns smashed.

You see, I was raised under this mentality whereby as host, you are as accommodating as possible to your guests.

For some reason this hospitality has grown into a strange tradition. The home-owning members of my family keep a competitive tally on just how many trick-or-treaters arrive at their steps, each October 31st. My sister will call around 7:00 with a, “how many so far? We’ve had 43”, etc. As if getting more of these transient visitors than expected and subsequently having to run out to CVS in a frenzy, to grab whatever sucrose-laden leftovers that still remain on their picked-over shelves, is somehow worthy of high praise.

Sadly, my grandparents never really had the opportunity to enjoy this annual ritual. For the 43 years that they lived on the third floor of Sears Avenue, the steep stairwell and rear entrance, deterred many-an-autumn night’s beggar. Their later basement apartment with it’s far-from-the-street isolation and poor illumination made for even fewer opportunities to dispense the Mars, Nestlé and Hershey-mades, by the handful.

In the end, the over abundance of leftover snackies suited Frances just fine – as has been mentioned here several times over, she especially liked her sweets. Some Snicker, a few 3 Musketeer, even a fistful of M&M – as has also been previously noted, she didn’t like to pluralize.

Although I can’t quite recall how she pronounced “Twix”, I do know for certain that this chocolate-covered shortbread and caramel veganization was a strain in the time department to say the very least.

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I followed this recipe, but would definitely advise the removal of flax from the shortbread (dries it out) and the addition of extra coconut oil to both the shortbread cookie and caramel.

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Fire Kings

On my weekly pilgrimage to my parents on Sunday, I snuck into my grandparents old basement apartment (I didn’t really sneak, you see when my father asked me to go to the downstairs garage to get some cans of cranberry soda – aka the new taste sensation – out of refridgerator #2, I simply took a detour first). My goal was to find something nostalgic that would spawn a recipe which could be shared here.

There will be no recipe in this post.

And so there they rested. In the cabinets just above the sink they hid, completely forlorn – one yellow, one red, piped with a now-chipped black rim.

With abilities enabling them to withstand the temperature of scalding ladles of chicken soup or perhaps perfectly al dente pastene – on those days of inferm, chock-filled with TV gameshow watching – they also carefully contained and denied countless streams of ice cream melt from trickling down on the floral motif-slickened and spun-vinyl backed protective barrier that stood guard over the cleanliness of the kitchen table. They valiantly served as temporary vessels for generous handfuls of dry-roasted peanuts and contained the splashes of many-a skim-milk-soaked Kellogg (sic) cornflake.

I’d be bluffing if I claimed their discovery didn’t require me to choke back a few wet ones. For the first time ever these puny bowls filled my mind, not my tummy.

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Local Apples: Orchard-Picked, Peeled and Whipped into a Crisp

Amongst his many preferences, Papa-boy liked two things for certain: his caps styled in a manner similar to that of a newsboy and his apples devoid of any choking hazard, completely peeled.
I can’t help but recall, “Do you want an apple? Here, papa will peel it for you”, every time I shed their skin.

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VEGAN APPLE CRISP

Supplies:
-small saucepan
-medium mixing bowl
-cucchia(d) or scraper
-Pyrex-styled casserole dish

Ingredients:
-6 or 7 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 3/4″ pieces (use a mix of sweet and tart varietals)
-1 cup of farm-fresh apple cider (plus 2 tbs)
-1/2 cup of pure sugar cane
-3 tsp powdered vegan egg replacer
-a few dashes of cinnamon
-a dash of ground clove
-a few grates of fresh nutmeg (or shake of powdered)
-1 cup of rolled oats
-1/4 cup ground golden flax seed (optional)

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel, core and slice apples. Place in mixing bowl and set aside.

In small saucepan bring cider to a steady boil. Add sugar and stir. Reduce and add a slurry of egg replacer which has been whisked with remaining cider. Lower heat and add cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. A thin syrup should form. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add syrup to apples and mix thoroughly.

Toss coated apples into un-greased Pyrex vessel. Keep as much of the excess liquid in bowl as possible.

Combine oats and flax in mixing bowl and incorporate with excess liquid, but do not over-stir.

Loosely press down apples with back of cucchia(d) and top with oat mixture. Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and sugar and pop in oven for about 40-50 minutes or until oat topping crisps up and turns golden.

Serving:
Serve piping hot, Travis Bickle-style (with a piece of melted Daiya on top) or with a dollop of vanilla, coconut-based “ice cream”. Yields about 8 decent snack-sized portions.

Scratch-Made Sweet Potato Gnocchi Carbonara

It’s safe to say that I get quite “weird” when I’m famished. On Easter Sunday 1988 my family went out for our customary post-mass dinner – unfortunately, my hungered state got the best of me. While waiting to be seated I was driven to punch my sister in the arm for giving me a hard time about being too short or too pale or having too long of a pony tail or being the first born male or for all of the above.

Although I was scolded for my ungentlemanly behavior, I distinctly recall my father giving me a sympathetic look in the manner of, “yeah, she was kinda asking for it, but don’t you dare do that again”. I also remember my grandfather’s far less sympathetic glare that positioned itself more along the lines of, “you’re lucky I don’t get the strap with the motor on it”.

Although Mr. C’s Restaurant is now long gone, watch out… I still go crazy for my gnocchi.

SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI

Supplies:
-large pasta pot filled 3/4 to top with pipe punch for boiling
-medium mixing bowl
-potato masher
-scraper/spatula or cucchia(d)

Ingredients:
-3 sweet potatoes peeled, cubed and boiled until mushy
-3 tbs Nayonaise (sounds unappetizing, but adds flavor and tofu helps bind dough)
-2 cups APF plus 1 cup
-a dusting of ital (vital wheat gluten)

Procedure:
In medium mixing bowl smash sweet potatoes with veganaise until smooth. Slowly fold in 2 cups of flour and a dusting of ital. Mix with hands until a dough ball is formed.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and incorporate remaining flour until it is no longer sticky.

Roll into snakes about 1″ thick in diameter. Using the edge of a fork divide into pillows and lightly push through flour with back side of fork.

Bring water to a rapid boil and then in go the gnocchi – make certain that they don’t stick together and form a giant blob (toss gingerly with handheld strainer or slotted spoon).

Gnocchi are done when they rise to top of water. Do not rinse.

EGGLESS CARBONARA

Supplies:
-large skillet

Ingredients:
-1/4 cup diced guanciale (vegan bacon with liquid smoke)
-2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 pound of cooked pasta (use sweet potato gnocchi above)
-several twists of fresh cracked black pepper
-2 shakes garlic powder
-2 tbs vegan butter spread
-1/2 cup of frozen peas

Procedure:
Heat olive oil in pan and lower to medium heat. Brown guanciale strips until almost burned. Add garlic and stir.
Combine pasta in the mix making certain not to stir with a spoon – toss gingerly from time to time. The idea is to get a slight browning on the skin of pasta.

Season with pepper and garlic powder. Toss in frozen peas and dollop of vegan butter, allowing it to melt and coat the pasta.

Serving:
Serve along side fresh tomato salad or leafy greens and top with plenty of nooch (for cheesiness). Yields approximately 3 hearty servings.

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