Corn Bread

When I first met Mr Pine Nut, he was more or less constantly engaged in a determined effort to make Really Good Cornbread. Except he didn’t want to use a recipe.

I tried to convince him that Baking is a Science, and Requires Accurate Measurements, but he wouldn’t believe me.

So we had quite a few pans of rather heavy cornbread together, unless I was cooking, in which case I used the recipe on the cornmeal bag, like my mother had always done. It came out okay, though it never seemed to be as nice as when my mom made it.

Eventually I got the recipe my mother-in-law had used when working in a retirement centre kitchen, and I’ve used it ever since with good success and very few adaptations (the original called for eggs, so that was my main change). It always comes out perfectly, except when I try to use flax eggs in it. Flax eggs do NOT work in this recipe. I don’t know why. I’ve tried a number of times and with varying amounts of water. So I stick with the Ener-G egg replacer for this one.

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The amount in black give you for either a pie pan or 9×9″ square pan. The amount in red gives you a 13×9″ pan batch.

Corn Bread
1 c (2 c) corn meal (sometimes I use a blend of corn flour and corn meal)
1/2 c (1 c) wheat flour
1/2 c (1 c) white flour
2 T (1/4 c) sugar
1/2 T (1 T) baking powder
1/2 tsp (1 tsp) salt
1/2 T (1 T) Ener-G egg replacer
2 T (1/4 c) water
1/3 c (2/3 c) oil (can do half applesauce)
1 c (2 c) non-dairy milk (any will work, and water will do in a pinch)
1/2 c (1 c) frozen corn (optional)

Now here are the SuperComplicated(tm) instructions!

In bowl #1, combine all dry ingredients.

In bowl #2, combine all wet ingredients.

Transfer contents of bowl #1 to bowl #2 and stir just until combined.

Pour into a sprayed pan and bake at 350. The 8×8″ will take roughly 20-25 minutes, and the 13×9 at least 30 minutes.

The toothpick test works this way for this recipe: at the end of your baking time, if it comes out clean, let it go another couple of minutes.

You can also do this in a cast-iron skillet with excellent results. I’ve been doing it that way a lot lately.

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Categories: bread, dairy-free, lunch, nut-free, recipes, side dish, soy-free, vegan | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Cookbook Review: Everyday Vegan Eats

I haven’t done any cookbook reviews lately, partly because I haven’t tried enough from any one cookbook to do it justice! But, Cadry’s Kitchen is having a giveaway of Everyday Vegan Eats, by Zsu Dever, and since I tested for this cookbook, I have tried a goodly number of the recipes in it (mostly different ones from the ones Cadry spotlighted! So, here goes. (Sorry that all the pics are lousy iPod pics. For some reason I either didn’t take any with my good camera, or they are hiding really well!)

Savoury Broth Mix: I have a mock chicken seasoning I make regularly that’s good enough, but I really liked this one for something with a little more depth and punch to it. It’s a good one to have made up and ready to go.

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Salsa Fresca: I’m a huge fan of fresh salsa and I really liked this. I particularly liked that it calls for no vinegar, which doesn’t sit well with me! It uses lime juice instead and it’s very simple to throw together.

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Timeless Tomato Sauce: Delicious! It has a secret ingredient that I would never have thought to stick in tomato sauce, but it was a great addition.

Tender Soy Curls: I made these once during testing to use in one of the tester recipes but I’ve also made it since then as a substitute for ground turkey in chili. Honestly I’m not the biggest fan of soy curls, but they tasted fine.

Bacon Tofu: This is the simplest, tastiest tofu bacon recipe EVER. It calls for 3 ingredients besides the tofu and it was fantastic. This has become my standard bacon. (For the record, it doesn’t work so well with tempeh. I tried.)

Comforting Noodle Soup: The flavour of this was awesome and it was a big hit with our Friday night group (despite the fact that I left the noodles in waaaaayyy too long and they had soaked up most of the broth. Oops.) In fact, it sounds really yummy to me right now being sick. Maybe I’ll make some for lunch today!

Chipotle Chili: Very tasty! I made this to try on its own as well as incorporated into the Chili Mac recipe. I liked the Chili Mac best but both were good.

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Mama’s Hungarian Bean Soup: I loved this one!

German Potato Salad: I didn’t officially test this one but I did make it on my own anyway. It was fabulous hot or cold.

Seven-Layer Tex-Mex Salad: This was delicious and colourful. Our Friday night group liked it!

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Meatless Pies in Buttermilk Herb Biscuits: This was the recipe I made the Tender Soy Curls for. I really liked these. They were a little time-consuming but not in a difficult way, just required some planning ahead.

Hungarian March of the Grenadiers: This is a potato dish that was so delicious there are no words. It uses the Hungarian Paprika Potatoes (separate recipe) and mashes them and serves them with pasta. Potatoes + Pasta = Always a win.

Whole Grain Rice Pilaf: I loved this so much. It is definitely one of the best pilafs I’ve tried. So many just fall short.

Mediterranean Quinoa with Fresh Herbs: I really liked this. It’s supposed to be eaten warm, but I made it as a cold salad and it was very tasty that way too!

Refried Beans with Tomatoes: These were so simple and so yummy.

Classic-Style Benedict: I’ve never had Eggs Benedict, but this was a mighty tasty (if also mighty rich) dish. Not something I would make on a regular basis, but definitely a yummy treat.

Fudge Brownies: These called for mashed bananas. Not being a fan of bananas, I made them anyway because it was such a small amount of banana! Both I and my friend’s bananaphobe daughter could still taste the banana. I still ate them though she didn’t want anything more to do with them. The banana flavour does intensify the next day, at which point I didn’t want any more to do with them either. But, the texture was really nice and everyone else aside from us two really liked them!

Caramel Sauce: Another recipe I’ve made multiple times since testing! I’m still struggling to get it right, because there are so many variables with candy making. Too hot? Too long? Sometimes it comes out like toffee and one time I actually got it slightly saucy. Any way it comes out, it still tastes good! I’ve used it in cookies, vegan ice cream, and other things.

Chocolate Chip Cookies: These taste like cookies from childhood. My favourite chocolate chip recipe is from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, but if you’re going for a more traditional texture and flavour, you would definitely want these.

Carrot Cake: I didn’t officially test this one either but I have made it. It was very good!

Blueberry Scones: DELISH.

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Soft Pretzels: I made the sweet cinnamon variation and they were all eaten up very, very quickly!

Are you hungry yet? Head over to Cadry’s Kitchen to enter the giveaway!

Categories: Cookbook Review | 3 Comments

Six Years!

Mr Pine Nut was sick on our actual anniversary, so we had to postpone our celebrations. We were able to leave the girls with his mom on the 20th of April and head up to Portland for a stop at Native Foods and a jaunt through the Rose Garden. We almost never go out to eat. It’s just not a thing we’ve ever done! So it’s definitely a treat when we do actually go. There’s a new Native Foods opening in Clackamas, my old stomping grounds, but it wasn’t opened yet, so we went to the Tigard location.

As always, the dilemma of what to choose. The first time I went, I got the Chicken Run Ranch sandwich, and it was amazing. A few months ago when I went up there with some friends to see the Pittock Mansion I got the Oklahoma Bacon Burger and it was amazing. I didn’t know that breaded and fried dill pickles would be outstandingly good. But they are. (I don’t like pickles.) And I got the oatmeal creme pie for dessert. Yum.

This time, I decided to go for the Bangkok Curry Bowl.

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It was really, really tasty. The veggies were cooked on the crisp side, which made them a little harder to eat, but I liked it. It took the dirty sock edge off the flavour of the broccoli without really cooking it to mush. The tofu steak was really good and the curry sauce was just the right amount of spice. You can’t see it in the picture, but the tofu and veggies are on brown rice.

I also got a side of Chicken Wings that were delicious. I even actually used the dipping sauces with them. I have to admit, I’m not much of a sauce person. On the whole I like my meatlike substances and salads and French toast naked. And it was actually kind of good. (Though I did eat the majority of the wings sans sauce.)

Mr Pine Nut got the Baja Blackened Taco.

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He said it was very good. I snitched a bit of the tempeh because I was curious and it was the best tempeh I’ve ever had. He also got a side of sweet potato fries, which is about the only way he could keep me out of them, since I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes. At all. I tried a couple and they just made me want to gag.

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So he enjoyed his sweet potato fries in blissful peace while I took pictures of the local scenery.

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What a deal!!

Then it was off to the Rose Garden, where we wandered around and sat on benches and looked at all the things that weren’t blooming and a few things that were.

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And then we found this spot where we took a picture of me in October of 2007 and took another picture of me now.

Me in 2007

Me in 2007

Me in 2014. I know, I know, I totally failed at the pose! But I couldn't remember exactly how I did it.

Me in 2014. I know, I know, I totally failed at the pose! But I couldn’t remember exactly how I did it.

So, that’s that. What should I try next time I hit Native Foods?

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Categories: Mrs Pine Nut, restaurants | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The Nonfire

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Aren’t those just bright and cheery?

So, Skittles are vegan, if you didn’t know that. No gelatin!

But this post isn’t about Skittles. It’s really about our nonfire. I would have posted about this a long time ago except that I’ve had all kinds of computer issues and then I couldn’t find my card reader to get photos off my camera. So forget that this happened almost two months ago.

As you may recall, last year we had a bonfire. This year, it was kind of wet, and we actually have a house fit to throw a party in, so I decided to have a nonfire instead. I mean, there was a fire in the woodstove, but that hardly counts aside from HEY, IT WAS WARM. And dry. And inside.

We invited a lot of people from church and elsewhere and had a lot of no-shows. All the people who ended up coming were from church. I’m not complaining! Except, yanno, as always, I had way too much food.

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It was March, so I went with a St Patrick’s Day kind of theme. So it was all GREEN and RAINBOWS and stuff. My Irish flag veggie tray was a thing of beauty… at least to me. We also had crackers, pretzels, hummus, guacamole, chips… and the star of the meal was the scalloped potatoes. I mean, what’s an Irish themed meal without potatoes?

As with my chickpea potpie, I faced the dilemma of needing it to be soy and nut free. Usually I use a cashew-based sauce. But I decided to try it with an oat milk based sauce, since that worked in the potpie. And it worked for the potatoes too! They were a hit and so delicious. Want the recipe? Well, here it is.

Soy and Nut Free Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

To make the oat milk:
Soak 1 c oats in 5 c water overnight. Add 1/16 tsp salt in the morning.

Blend for a couple minutes and then strain. This makes one quart of milk.

When you’re ready to make your potatoes:

Peel and slice 8 c potatoes. Boil in 3.5 c water until partially cooked (7-10 minutes). Drain potatoes and arrange in a sprayed 13×9 Pyrex-type pan, and set aside.

In a saucepan stir together:
6 T oil
1/2 c onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped

Sauté onion in the oil about 2 minutes. Add garlic.

Add:
6T unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp of a favourite dried seasoning (I used dill)
3 c oat milk
Stir dry ingredients in first, then add the milk very gradually, stirring thoroughly to prevent lumpage. Stir constantly over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat again.

Pour sauce over potatoes. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 25 more minutes.

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Aside from the food, we had good music, good visiting, and an entertaining escapade with some shrimp that mysteriously appeared in someone’s contribution of supposedly vegetarian Chinese takeout. Train Boy climbed high up in a fir tree and didn’t die. Yep, all in all a good evening.

It was very interesting because we had a different group of people than the usual group that comes to our bon-or-non-fires, so the dynamic was totally new. That was fascinating for me to observe. Is that weird?

And, in closing, here’s a picture of rainbow-hued chocolate chip cookies to brighten your day.

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Categories: dairy-free, dessert, entertaining, entrees, freezer meals, lunch, nut-free, recipes, soy-free, vegan | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Piña Colada Muffins!! or, Another Recipe Unearthed from the Bottomless Pit That Is My Drafts Folder

I had the better part of a can of pineapple slices in my fridge. I also had cocoanut milk. This means piña colada muffins NEEDED to happen. (You could also make doughnuts out of these, if you have a doughnut pan.)

I actually wrote this up aeons ago, and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder ever since. I’m pretty sure that these were awesome.

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1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c pineapple juice (from the canned pineapple
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c pineapple (chunks or tidbits, your call)
1/2 c cocoanut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 T cocoanut oil, melted

Option: Top with 1/2 c cocoanut (I used 1/4 c each of sweetened baker’s cocoanut and unsweetened flaked)

Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet ingredients, including melted oil, in another bowl. Combine them together just until mixed. Drop into greased or papered muffin tin, top with topping if using, and bake at 350 for… I have “X MINUTES” written down, so that means I either forgot to pay attention to my baking time or… or something. Start with 18 minutes and go from there. That’s usually safe for muffins. Toothpick test will tell you when they’re done!

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Categories: breakfast, brunch, recipes, soy-free, vegan | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Raspberry Bars

So, whilst I am feeling Completely Uninventive, I’m going to share this recipe that is from my growing-up years. We got it from our friend Ruth because I loved these bars SO much, so I have no idea where the recipe originally came from. The problem was, they were so, SO sweet that I’m pretty sure my mom only made them maybe twice.

They really are rather sickeningly sweet. But, if you’re serving a crowd of normal people, that works out because you can cut them into smaller pieces. (This plan doesn’t work so well if you’re serving a crowd of clones of, oh, ME.)

At any rate, because I do care about my health, here’s what I have started to do. I’m posting the recipe with its original full sugar content, but these are the two things I flip between to reduce the content: I either halve the sugar in the dough, or I use smushed-up fresh berries instead of jam. It’s the sugared dough + sugared fruit that is the lethal sugar wallop with these, so reducing one or the other is the key.

(If you want a super healthified version of these, check out my Breakfast Bars from MoFo last year.)

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I used cherry jam in this particular batch.

Ruth’s Raspberry Bars

3/4 c vegan margarine
1 c packed brown sugar
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c oatmeal
1 10-oz jar of raspberry preserves (or any berry!) (I usually use more than this – 10oz is a pretty thin layer!)

Cream margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add combined dry ingredients. Mix well.

Press half of the crumb mixture into greased 13×9 pan. Spread preserves. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

Cool. Cut into bars.

***

Oh, and HAPPY ST PATRICK’S DAY. If you’re a linguist nerd like me, or just want to listen to someone speaking prolifically in Irish for around two hours, check out “No Béarla“.

And yes, yes I did schedule this post for 3:17 in the morning.

Beannacht.

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Categories: dessert, nut-free, recipes, vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Things and stuff.

So, beginning yesterday, I started a temporary social media withdrawal. (This will feed into FB automatically, but I’m not personally on there right now.) I just mention this in case you try to contact me through FB because I’m not likely to see it unless it’s a message to my personal account. I have no idea whether this hiatus will be for a week or three weeks at this point. So. On to other things.

***

Life has been a little bumpy lately as I adjust to house life. Don’t get me wrong, I am thoroughly enjoying the space and the generally normal life! But I’ve been completely zapped of any food creativity and most of what I have tried to make has just fallen flat. I forget to salt my beans. I overseason my beans. I burn my rice. That kind of thing. I find it ironic that the minute I actually have room to spread out, my cooking falls like an underbaked cake in a hurricane. So, this is why there have been no food posts lately.

For suppers several times a week I’ve been making loads of raisin-oat scones because those are pretty foolproof. The girls love them. Lou Who thinks they’re cookies. So, what can go wrong there?

I did make a pretty good spinach pesto last week, but it was one of those “bit of this bit of that” concoctions that can never be quite recreated. And if I’m following a recipe, stuff comes out okay. I think I’m getting a little burned out on some things, though. Our church has been doing a weekly after-church meal for a couple months now and while we get all the details worked out for the different rotating menus the biggest chunk of work falls on me and F. It’ll lighten up soon. And I’m cutting back on cookies, partly because I’m sick right now, but also because I just need to cut back on cookies.

Oh, we did have a nonfire! But that deserves a post of its own.

And I made myself a skirt. So, that’s something. And I’ve got myself a little music corner that’s enabling me to actually practise more readily. That is awesome.

Okay, bye.

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Categories: Lou Who, Mrs Pine Nut, sewing | Tags: | Leave a comment

The End Is in Sight

So, in the past few weeks, things like this happened:

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And also this happened:

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We have insulation in our ceiling. We have a functional woodstove. We have our range and kitchen sink hooked up and the office set up as a temporary bedroom.

Does this mean that maybe, just maybe, we’re about to get out of this moudly deathtrap of doom, er, trailer?

YESYESYESYESYESYESYES

The first photos I have of our treading foot on this place were taken at the end of March, 2011, so it’s getting close to 3 years. Believe me, I never dreamed 3 years were going to go by of waiting for the house we designed to be a place we could actually live.

I was asked recently by another mom of girls about my girls’ age: would I recommend this trailer dwelling stuff to anyone else? This family is, like us, hoping to make the move to the country but it might be a while between purchasing land and being able to finish a house for them, too.

And the following is my $0.025.

Do you have kids or plan to have kids? Not an automatic no, but make sure you and they each have your own sleeping space, especially if they are older kids. Our trailer wasn’t designed that way.

Do you have pets? Again, not an automatic no, but if you have both kids AND pets, well. Think about it. They need space too! If you have a cat, where will the litter box/food/water go? If a dog, is there a place for her to sleep?

Do you have musical instruments? Um, is there space? I know of a family of 4 + cats who’s living in a trailer with a cello, a harp, AND a piano. I don’t know how they’re pulling that off. But apparently it’s doable.

Do you have a plan? Things come up. We thought we had the money to finish the house the first year we were here, and then taxes sucked a bunch of our money out of our pockets. Are you prepared in case your 6 months turns into 36 months because of your financial situation?

Will you have a storage unit to keep your things in until the house is finished? We did. $60ish a month does add up, but at least the stuff was safe and dry.

Do you ever deal with depression? Definitely not recommended. I think mentally I went downhill a lot faster in the trailer than I had been going in a regular place.

Trailers tend to be damp. Stuff gets mouldy. You have limited kitchen space. Stir craziness is just part of life.

Overall, no, I wouldn’t recommend it. But it was, for us, a means to an end (if not an ideal one), and it could be for you too. The ultimate question is, would I do it again? Not if I didn’t have any other option!

But it doesn’t matter now.

Categories: Mrs Pine Nut | Tags: , | Leave a comment

My Etsy Shop has been REVAMPED. Yay!

My Etsy Shop has been REVAMPED. Yay!

Now accepting credit cards, Etsy gift cards, and requests for custom orders!

I’m currently prepping some more alphabet colouring pages, and have some other items I hope to be adding soon. I hope you’ll check it out! You can also like my shop’s Facebook page for updates as I list things.

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Categories: recipes | Tags: | Leave a comment

Jaunt to Eugene. Keystone Café + Vanilla Jill’s

Today my friend and I went to Eugene, FINALLY.

I mean, we’ve been talking about it ever since we went to EVEN’s (Eugene Veg Education Network) little vegan fair in… August. Yeah, kind of a while ago. But I won a gift card for $10 for Keystone Café in a drawing! That was kind of awesome. So ever since then we’ve intended to go back to Eugene to check out this Keystone Café and hit the Goodwill. We’re so exciting, right???

Today at last our schedules and other things coincided and we went. I took Lou Who. GooGoo stayed at home with Daddy and M’s kids were all in school, so it was a peaceful mommy day out. :-)

First we went to Goodwill, where I did not find shoes for GooGoo as I had hoped, but I did find other things, like a shirt that’s way too big but it has a blue brontosaurus and “vegetarian” on it. I couldn’t resist. And a 3-in-1 Thomas Kinkade puzzle for 99 cents and a glass punch bowl with 12 cups for $4, and a couple other things. Like a 99 cent little husky dog for Lou Who who is really, really into cuddling stuffed animals and dolls. She clung happily to that thing from the moment it got into her hands until we got home, barring the time we were eating.

After Goodwill, we made a run to Walmart because I forgot to bring diapers for Lou Who and she was starting to get Damp Pants. After Walmart it was off to the Keystone Café.

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The place is small with tables pretty close together. We got treated to a lot of fascinating conversations around us while not being able to have much of one of our own.

Eating her complimentary fruit cup. Her mouth was full of grape and her arm full of stuffed Husky.

Eating her complimentary fruit cup. Her mouth was full of grape and her arm full of stuffed Husky.

Unsuspecting M is unsuspecting.

Unsuspecting M is unsuspecting. She thought I was taking a selfie.

DOUBLE SELFIE

DOUBLE SELFIE

The waitress was very friendly and got us our food quickly. We had 11 specifically vegan items we could order, which were handily grouped together on the menu, and both decided to get the Vegan Tofu Skillet+extra homefries.

Here’s their description of the dish:

Grilled Tofu Scrambled with Homefries, Spinach, Zucchini, Green and Red Bell Peppers, Onions, and Mole Sauce. Topped with Cabbage, Salsa & Cilantro. Served with Corn Bread Topped with Enchilada Sauce & Nutritional Yeast Gravy.

And here’s a picture:

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And here’s our rundown. The nooch gravy: excellent. Like, really good. I’m not great at gravy making, and I would love to be able to make that good of gravy at home. The spinach was perfectly steamed, which was great. The homefries were very good. I mean, I can make comparable ones at home, but they were good.

All in all, though, there was just flat-out too much going on with this dish. You have the cornbread topped with TWO sauces. Both were good, but just the gravy would have been better. The tofu had obviously been frozen, and not all the water was cooked out. There was also absolutely no detectable flavour to it. It looked like it had a rub, but I’m positive there was no marinade or anything to pep it up, and it really didn’t look or taste grilled. I added a bunch of salt trying to make it edible. Then there was some crazy spicy sauce mixed in with the veggies that made the veggies pretty much inedible. I don’t mind spicy but it just didn’t… mesh with the dish. It’s hard to describe. Seriously, three sauces in one dish?

M had the exact same reaction I did. In retrospect we wished we had ordered different things just to see if everything was mediocre or if we just didn’t pick a good dish. My suspicion, though, is that vegan isn’t their specialty – it appears to just be an option they offer to cater to the Eugene population. Next time, I plan to go to the Cornbread Café instead, where the entire point of the restaurant is to make amazing vegan food that you can’t easily recreate at home. I haven’t been to the CC, but M has, as well as another friend, and they all rave about it. CC’s Facebook page is a constant stream of delicious food photos that make me want to just go there almost daily.

So, we left there feeling a little blah and decided to go to Vanilla Jill’s.

I approve of these hours.

I approve of these hours.

Kombucha on tap! I... didn't take advantage of the option.

Kombucha on tap! I… didn’t take advantage of this option.

We almost didn’t go, but we were SO glad we did. We ordered the cocoanut lime creme flavour from the vegan options, mine topped with chocolate chips, and it was SO good it completely made up for the Keystone meal. Now that is something I couldn’t make at home. SO GOOD. Did I mention it was good? We kicked ourselves a little when we saw “VEGAN SANDWICHES” advertised on the whiteboard. They were probably pretty fab vegan sandwiches.

Seriously, so good.

Seriously, so good.

Then we drove back to the place where I had left my car and sat in the parking lot and talked for a long time before she left to pick up her kidlets and I went home.

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Categories: dessert, Lou Who, lunch, Mrs Pine Nut, restaurants | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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