Monthly Archives: September 2012

Prelude to Vegan MoFo 2012!

Today I just want to talk a little more about the challenge I’ve chosen (Turn Betty Crocker Into a Vegan) and wax nostalgic.

I grew up with this Betty Crocker Cookbook.

betty crocker

My mom used it a lot. When our Abyssinian cat turned 2, she made the cat-shaped birthday cake for her. The chocolate frosting recipe graced that cake and many other cakes of my growing-up years. I remember eating warm apple crisp with ice cream and chowing down on delicious, flaky pie crusts (my mom makes amazing pies). These are all things I still make out of this book on a regular basis, only veganised.

Outside of actually eating things from this cookbook, many many happy hours of my childhood I remember simply perusing the cookbook and looking at all the pictures, the colour schemes of which were beginning to be dated even then, and mocking the copy on the back (the cookbook for a new you!). My dad used to analyse Betty’s matronly portrait on the back of the book as well, expostulating on how there was something there for everyone: “well-done hair to appeal women and grandmothers, and big lips to appeal to the men”*.

Betty Crocker 1970s

This is the Betty on my mom’s cookbook.

When I left home or maybe shortly before, my mom bought me a copy of my own (same year), and that was really special.

The problem is that since I’ve gone plant-based there’s not really a lot in this book that’s remotely useful to me, and even if it is vegan, there’s often a lot more fat and salt than I’m okay with using in a supposedly healthy dish.**

My goal is to present to you, over this coming month, 20-24 recipes that have been adjusted to be healthier and minus animal products. I plan to use a majority of practical, easily-accessible ingredients, and only one of the recipes is maybe going to involve tofu, because it’s totally possible to not use that much tofu in a vegan diet, contrary to popular omnivore opinion.

This is going to be fun, and it is my hope that what I have to share will be of particular help to new vegans or people who haven’t had a ton of experience yet with cooking, or maybe people who just want some healthy recipes or ideas for Meatless Monday. So, I’ll see you back here in a few days and the fun will begin.


*I was kind of sad that the copy I have, though the same year, has a different portrait of Betty on it than my mom’s. The Betty on mine is much more timeless and therefore less interesting.

**For instance, the recipe for cobbler, which is primarily white flour, shortening, and sugared fruit, is touted as a healthy way of getting your servings of bread and fruit. Hmm. Not in my house. Let’s not try to pretend that desserts are supposed to be healthy.

Categories: challenges, Mrs Pine Nut, vegan mofo, vegan mofo 2012 | Tags: | Leave a comment

Not on the Topic of Cooking

And today I’m going to take a break from food talk, just because it’s my blog and I can, and because I’m about to bombard you with almost-daily food posts all October.

So, let’s talk about thrift stores.

I didn’t grow up with a thrift-storing mom. Sometimes we’d go and look around, but the stores always stunk and we seldom came away with anything except occasionally a newborn-size baby dress for one of my stuffed animals to wear, or something like that. Just wasn’t our thing.

When I was in my early 20s I worked at a fabric store right next door to a Goodwill and I started stopping in there a lot on my way to or from work and got in the habit of buying records and books there and sometimes clothes and often shoes. But it was after I got married that I really started to fall in love with thrift stores.

The stores do tend to stink, and some are definitely more trashy than others. They aren’t always a guarantee of good deals, either. Still, when you consider that generally you’ll be paying more even at Walmart, the thrift store prices look pretty good. There is something very satisfying about the Thrill of the Hunt and Bragging Rights Gained by Finding a New Toddler Dress for a Dollar.

My most-frequented spots in the Willamette Valley area:

  • Teen Challenge’s thrift stores in Albany and Lebanon, especially the one in Lebanon, because they have a bin of baby/toddler clothes for 49 cents a piece. I’ve gotten a LOT of things for my girls out of that bin.
  • Jack and Jill in Albany in the past was one of my favourite places to go, but after the owner was found guilty of racketeering I have decided not to patronise her store any more. It’s a pity, because she had a nice selection and pretty reasonable prices. Many of my favourite clothes for GooGoo came from here.
  • Mother Goose Resale is another really nice place. The prices aren’t really particularly low, but the clothes are in good shape and the Albany location particularly has a great rack of maternity clothes. The Lebanon location is new but I’ve found some super cute stuff there and they did have a 50-cent rack at least one time when I went there, and I hear that they bought Replay in Corvallis and will be reopening that as a new Mother Goose location.
  • I check Goodwill fairly often but especially in Corvallis the prices on almost everything are pretty steep for a thrift store. I do find some stuff there sometimes but generally more for me and not so much for my girls.

Do you go to thrift stores or yard sales? Where are your favourite places?

Categories: Mrs Pine Nut | 2 Comments

Postpartum Freezer Food Project of Doom: Taco Filling

I still have a couple of freezer food posts to post that I started before Baby Lou Who arrived, so here’s the first of them.

Today I made a double batch of taco filling. I got three 2.5 cup portions out of it, which I froze in quart bags.

1 1/4 c water
1/2 c walnuts
1 clove garlic
1 T nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1 T taco seasoning (see below)
1 c bulgur wheat
8 oz can tomato sauce

Place first 6 ingredients in blender and blend. Place bulgur and tomato sauce along with blended stuff into pan. (Alternatively you can mix it all up just in the pan and hand-chop the walnuts, which is what I do – I like the extra texture.) Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 10 minutes. Use as is or brown in a nonstick skillet.

NOTE: If you want just plain “ground beef”, substitute 1 T beeflike seasoning (such as Beaf) for the taco seasoning. You can still use the tomato sauce if you like or just sub 1 cup water instead.

taco seasoning

I store my taco seasoning in an old jam jar.

Taco Seasoning
2 T onion powder
3 T paprika/smoked paprika
2 T salt
1 T garlic powder
1/4 c cumin
1/4 c California chili powder

Mix all together and store in airtight container.

Categories: entrees, freezer meals, lunch, recipes, substitutions, vegan | 4 Comments

Vegan MoFo

Vegan MoFo is something I’m going to try this year.

I had a really hard time coming up with a theme. I had several ideas. One was Cooking With Stored Food. One was Actually Try Some of the Pinterest Recipes.

Ultimately, however, I decided on something else: Turn Betty Crocker Into a Vegan.

betty crocker

My old Betty Crocker cookbook from 1983 gets a surprising amount of use from me considering that a vast majority of the recipes are laden with fat and/or pig in some form or other. I’ve gone through and selected 24 recipes that are either completely new to me or that I’ve never made since moving away from animal products and need to adapt for current use. I only plan to actually do 20 of these recipes so we’ll see which 20 get chosen as the month goes on.

The fun begins October 1. Stay tuned.

Categories: challenges, vegan mofo, vegan mofo 2012 | Tags: | 2 Comments

Random Bullet Points

Do you like bullet points? Whether you do or not, I have some for you.

  • I use ginger fairly regularly, but not quite often enough to use up an entire ginger root before it spoils. So I grate it up and freeze it in a plastic container and scoop out what I need as I need it. Just don’t pack it down, or it’ll be really hard to scoop out.
  • Despite the recommendation to Not Keep Garlic or Onions in the Fridge, I do anyway. They last longer and onions produce less tears streaming down my face if they’re cold. Also, if I have more garlic than I can use (think those big bags of pre-peeled cloves from Costco), I do the same thing as I do with ginger: I press it all and pop it in the freezer and scoop out bits as I need it.
  • I LOVE discount grocery stores. In our area we have two Grocery Depots and a couple Grocery Outlets. Good things can be found at both, but I prefer Grocery Depot myself. When they have shelf-stable non-dairy milks, it’s 79 cents a quart, and it’s usually feast or famine with it because they only get what they’re given. (Things that are getting close to expiring, have damaged boxes, or the like.) One time they had Sabra hummus for 50 cents a container and once they had frozen tofu 4 for $1. I can deal with deals like that.

Categories: around the kitchen, Mrs Pine Nut | Leave a comment


Or, as GooGoo says, “Buck Booey-ohs”.


Blackberries from across the street.

Our property is atangle with blackberries. They’re not all that easy to get to, but in 2011 we still got a pretty good amount bagged up in our freezer – enough to get us through the year – plus a batch of freezer jam that only recently got all used up.

This year, the berries decided to all start to ripen when Lou Who was just a couple weeks old. So we started picking. Then Dan noticed our neighbour had some really large and luscious ones over by the Old Falling Apart House across the street, and got permission from him for us to pick them. We got a lot more that way for our time than picking the ones here on our property (though I still check the bushes by the road that are pretty easy to access).

I made a batch of jam from this recipe and filled up 10 baby food jars and two slightly larger jars and popped it in the freezer. (This recipe tasted really good, but it did not set up as promised. I think maybe I should have cooked it a little longer.) I also made a second batch from this recipe. I liked that it had so much less sugar (I didn’t use the Ball pectin, though). It didn’t set up all that well either, but it did say it was a soft-set jam, so maybe that’s as set as it gets.

Next we went to Snag Boat Bend to pick blackberries and got a tremendous haul there. Sadly, I didn’t have room in my fridge for all we brought home and the last two trays’ worth I froze had started to ferment. They tasted nastily alcoholic to me and were starting to be wormy, so I had to pitch them. What a pity, but I guess our garden got a good meal.

Tragically, the second batch of jam I made (from the Snag Boat berries) is full of worms, too. I pulled some out for company and was glad I looked at it first because it was full of them. I guess I’m enough of a hick that had there only been one or two I’d have just picked them out and used the jam anyway, but we’re talking a LOT of worms here. Disgusting. I’m not sure how I totally missed seeing them when I mashed up the berries. So I pulled out the previous unwormy batch of jam instead.

Lesson learned: our blackberries (and our neighbour’s) have no worms, even though they’re smaller and harder to get to. Snag Boat berries are easier and bigger, but clearly infested. Blech.

Do you pick berries where you are? What kind and what do you usually do with them?

Categories: Food Preservation, recipes | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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