The Day of Two Gravies

Pasta on Thanksgiving? Yup! That means not only will my table have, always at arms-length away, the deliciously savory brown mushroom gravy (for the scratch-made seitan tofurkey, smashed buhdayduhz and count ’em, 1-2-3 stuffings), but you best believe ladles of this marvelous red stuff will be poured all over the second course too. It’s tradition.

20131128-123741.jpgSmashed buhdayduhz, mushroom gravy, whole wheat crust/sugar free apple pie, seitan tofurkey, cornbread stuffing w/ “sausage” and craisins, traditional bread stuffing made w/ homemade whole wheat bread and a hearty wildman stuffing of black rice, farro, cannellini beans and sweet potato.


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.



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.

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.





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

-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)

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.

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.

Brimfield Flea and the Quest for VTG Condiment Jars of a Specific Brand

I’ve got an addiction – an addiction to dull, chipped, faded and otherwise just plain-old, worn-out hunks of junk.

Today marks the last day of the last week of the 2013 season for the Mecca of salvage dealers/hoarders/appreciators known the world over simply as Brimfield Flea – and thus my last opportunity to get dirty with the carnies. As an avid collector of antiquated designs and technologies myself, you best believe I made the trek.

Namely, this was done in order to update and expand my extensive western cowboy shirt collection. This included the score of the day: a rad 60’s-era red gingham with ornate yoke on the back (for ten bucks).

I also hoped to score a very specific type of container that was just mentioned in the post prior: a vinty glass jar emblazoned (I now hate that word) with it’s distinctly undulating banner, whose very markings proclaim it’s contents as being the mustard of choice on Sears Avenue.

After hours of scouring the acres upon acres of grounds that constitute the Brimfield Antiques Show and Flea Market I uncovered a few 75th Anniversary Planter’s peanuts jars, just about every soft drink bottle known to humankind and the almost-but-not-quite Gulden’s container. Although many could be considered somewhat relevant to this blog (Sprite and/or Slice vessels in particular), not a single vendor had what it was that I was really after: French’s mustard.

Instead of here documenting the jaw-dropping breadth of the show’s magnitude, the grotesquely life-sized Elvis and Bruce Lee statues or the slew of clouds-at-their-feet gidrul’, unable to perform the most basic of bipedal functions without bumping into one another, due to their “bargains-on-the-brain” mentality, I have settled on this simple snag below.

I will spare readers my laborious use of metaphor and just show this assortment of old valve handles. Papa would like stuff like this. Please feel free to draw your own conclusions.


Goin’ to Carl and Dave’s for Some Tofurkey Breast

Sears Ave.
Crossing Atwells at the church.
Aisles too narrow for stroller.
Tiny hands smudging the deli display case.
1/2 pound.
Never “turkey” – always “turkey breast”.
Three flights back up.
Toasted Crugnales.
A slathering from a butter knife, dripping with that savory spread, so intoxicatingly yellow.
Glass jar, no squeeze.
Skim milk.

Today’s lunch consisted of Tofurkey on the last two slices from my sister (brought loaf over earlier in the week, see earlier post).

While at work, my mid-day meal certainly wasn’t from Carl and Dave’s Deli (RIP), but with the French’s mustard squirts (sadly, glass has since been retired) I could barely tell the difference.


Sweet/Heat: Peach and Jalapeño Salsa and a Bit of Prose Known as The Lonesome Peach Tree

The Lonesome Peach Tree

With their parched, woolen outer-skin it was no wonder Salvatore disliked handling them. I too have an aversion for the nails-on-chalkboard-inducing texture of freshly-plucked peaches, whereas my son does not – I suppose this particular idiosyncrasy skips a generation.

Fingertips are one thing, the tongue’s papillae are yet another (gags uncontrollably). Peel it for me, then we’ll talk.

In the days of my youth my relentless inquiries lead to an earlier-than-most-my-age education on reproduction. A sole peach tree had better chances of baring fruit if partnered with a tree with which it could cross-pollinate, my papa would lecture. We had two, so that usually did the trick – I was also given a book whose pages were full of hand-drawn privates and so that took care of that.

After many seasons of avoidance, he finally took good care to ensure this sensory dilemma would never have to be faced again. He uprooted the mate that had cropped up on the other side of the garden. This permanent pruning was good news for Papa and I, but was countered by Frances’ chagrin (spawned by her proclivity for all things dolce).

For years, the arbor would slouch in the far right corner of the garden, gloriously chloroplasting, blossoming, then withering away only to remain cyclically dormant through winter – anxiously awaiting, but perpetually barren.

Tuesday my mother announced that the peach tree had successfully yielded three firm, yet succulent orbs of white flesh.

A recipe to commemorate her enduring sweetness to follow.


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Ensconced in Terry or Gravy Shields

A memory from my cousin:

“All children under age of 18 must wear full bath towel around neck to protect from red gravy”.

Frances. Forever ultra-vigilant in her desire to keep us grandkids devoid of splatter. We didn’t have a say in the matter either. As soon as we sat at her kitchen table she would fasten these excessively over-sized, absorbent cloths around our hungry necklines with a safety pin – giant protective bibs.