My all time favourite thing is pie. It can be sweet pie. It can be savoury pie. As long as it is pie! My favourite sweet pie is blueberry. YUM YUM! After that, peach then strawberry. I even like a good strawberry rhubarb pie, but DO NOT try to give me a rhubarb or raisin pie. I detest raisins.
I grew up in a household where every Sunday night we would have pie as dessert. My mom would make her pies mostly with seasonal fruit. Every once in a while, she would make a killer lemon meringue. My Mom learned to make pie from my Grandma Betty (my Dad’s mom) and I then learned to make pie from both my Mom and also Grandma Betty. My Grandma Betty was the queen of baking.
All of the below recipes can be easily veganized.
Mom’s Pie Crust! It is the flakiest pie crust you will make. The trick is and you CANNOT skip this step, is you must add the vinegar! I’m not sure about variations for replacing shortening.
This recipe makes 2 pie crusts.
2 cups of flour 3/4 cups of vegetable shortening pinch of salt 4 TBSP Cold water (the colder the better) 1 TSP White Vinegar. (this is the only vinegar that will work)
In a large bowl add the flour, shortening and salt.
In a small bowl add the cold water and vinegar together.
With a pastry cutter or two forks cut into the flour and shortening until it is crumbly.
Once it is crumbly add the water, a few tablespoons at a time. If you find your mixture too dry, add more water. Make sure you only add a bit at a time.
Don’t over mix, otherwise your crust will be tough.
Due to COVID there is apparently an over abundance of potatoes in storage right now and due to this the cost of buying them at a fruit stand or grocer should be a lot cheaper than in past. So… let’s get out there and buy us some potatoes.
Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who don’t know how to cook potatoes. I know. I know. It’s something that seems relatively easy, yet, can be frustrating all the same. I am posting a few links to potato cooking basics and a few fancy recipes for those who have their tater skills down.
Since everyone is buying up all of the Vital Wheat Gluten so they can make their own bread flour, and bread flour will likely start hitting the shelves again…. well, you are going to have a lot of Vital Wheat Gluten in your pantry. Time for you to learn how to make Seitan. As a bonus, I’m including one of my recipes.
First… what is Seitan (aka Wheat Meat). Wheat Meat isn’t a new thing, it’s been around for centuries and has been used in Asian dishes for just as long. The term Seitan is newer and yes, it’s pronounced the same as Satan!
Why eat Seitan? It punches a protein punch. 1/2 a cup of Seitan has 46 grams of protein in it. It’s easy to make and is a great meat substitute, plus, as I said earlier… for those of you who hoarded it, you are going to need to use it up eventually!
Let’s make Seitan!
First you will need to create a large ring with salt. Next draw a pentagram in the middle of that circle. In the middle of the pentagram place a white candle… Oops! Sorry, right… we aren’t summoning Satan… making Seitan. Get it together Lizzie!
Here are some really fun videos and recipes! Also, get your kids involved. This will be fun for them!
Makes 4 medium-sized sausages or 6 small. For more sausages, double or triple the recipe.
Preparation 20 minutes
Cook Time 45/50 mins
Tools: Potato masher, Bowl, Tinfoil, Steamer basket, large pot to steam with (can also be done in an Instant Pot), Standmixer (or hand knead until gluten strings form when you pull it apart)
1 Cup black beans (for the best flavour) ¼ Cup vegetable broth 1 TBSP olive oil or neutral oil of choice 1 ½ TBSP soy sauce or coconut aminos or tamari sauce 1 TBSP red miso 2 TSP smoked paprika 1 TSP fennel seeds
1 TSP cumin seeds 1 TSP black pepper 1 TSP red chili flakes 1 TSP garlic powder 1 TSP onion powder
1/3 can Jackfruit (in water or brine, do not use the one in syrup) (make sure to shred/pull apart the Jackfruit pieces) 3 TBSP nutritional yeast (I sometimes add a bit extra to boost the flavour) 1 TBSP potato starch
2 TBSP Chickpea flour
¾ Cup vital wheat gluten + 2 TBSP
In a large bowl or standmixer bowl place the black beans and with a potato masher to mash them until they are creamy (it’s ok to have some beans that aren’t completely mashed).
Add the broth, oil, soy sauce, shredded Jackfruit and miso. Stir well to combine.
Add the smoked paprika, fennel, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and red chili (and other spice combos you choose). Stir well to combine.
Add the nutritional yeast, potato starch, chickpea flour, and vital wheat gluten to the bowl and stir until it is all thoroughly combined. If you are using a stand mixer, use the dough hook and knead until gluten strings have begun to form.
If mixing by hand, when it gets too hard to stir, get in there with your hands and knead. Knead till you see it slightly stringy (this is the gluten working)
Let rest for approximately 5 minutes.
Quarter the batter, and form each section into a sausage shape. Make sure to pack the dough tightly as you shape it.
Wrap tightly in a sheet of aluminum foil, and wrap the ends to seal the sausage inside.
Repeat with all of the sausage dough. I also give them a roll on the table, after they have been wrapped, to even out the shape.
Prepare your steam basket. Once steaming, add the sausages, and steam for 45 minutes.
If you are using an Instant Pot, steam for 40 minutes, then do a 10-minute natural release and then release the rest of the steam. Make sure you have at least 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot pot before you steam.
Allow them to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, place the sausages, still wrapped in aluminum, in the fridge to firm for 3 to 5 hours or overnight (this is especially important if you plan to grill them — I usually leave them overnight)
You can reheat, grill, sauté, cook, or do whatever you want with them.
We all have those items in our pantry that we bought ages ago and forgot about. A can of palm of hearts, a box of chana masala mix, that box of gluten free macaroni, that spice mix that you were going to make a dish with… and you can’t remember what it was, the can of pineapple rings about to expire… you all get it. A few of us will also have a few staples such as rice, few cans of beans, tomatoes and some tomato paste. Heck there might even be some flour in there.
I am trying to keep our grocery shopping to a minimum. Because of that we will be shopping our pantry, fridge and freezer to stretch all of what we have to hopefully keep us fed for the next couple weeks. The less we are out, the less likely we will catch COVID-19.
Below are some links to fun YouTube videos on how to shop your own pantry or make recipes with what you have in your fridge. Enjoy and share your yummy dishes with me!
Thanks to all of the people who did panic shopping when this all went down a little over a week ago, many of us are struggling to find staples on the grocery shelves and are resorting to making meals with what ever is in our cupboard, fridge and freezer. This isn’t completely a bad thing, you finally get to use that can of heart of palm you bought a year ago. Why did I buy that again?
I’ve always had to be resourceful when it comes to cooking. I’ve been on my own since I was 18 and money has been hard to come by on many occasions, so I’ve had to be creative with food. I always managed and never went hungry thankfully. There have been a few times in our history where we were going through wars or The Great Depression and putting food in your cupboards was beyond desperate times. During those times, homemakers had to make due with what they could get their hands on. I’ve been researching some of these recipes and below is some of what I found.
If you have kids, this might be a fun thing to do with them!
Ok. Ok. Yes… I was on a roll. Blogging almost every day. Then. Poof. Smoke bomb. I was gone. Don’t worry. I’m not gone. I’m still here. So where did I go?
I didn’t actually go anywhere… However, I did get lost — in my novel.
I’ve been crazy motivated since returning from my parents. There is something about that small town that motivates me to write dark, horrific things. It inspires ghost stories. I’ve been taking advantage of that writing adrenaline rush and have accomplished quite a bit. I actually can’t seem to write fast enough. This is a good thing.
Also, the weather hasn’t really been cooperating. We are still having many, many, many, MANY days of rain. Even with a risk of rain, I don’t want to chance taking my laptop outside. I know I could wrap it in plastic, but I am still paranoid I will get it wet. This coming week is looking a bit better, so I am hoping to get out to a cafe at least a couple times this week. If not… I may need to continue writing from my couch or dining room table.
I’ve also been doing some recipe creation and then testing this week. I have another blog, where I am blogging about food and recipes called Not Vegan, Now Vegan, please check it out!
Today I also FINALLY fixed my bike. It keeps breaking down. It was free and has had a few issues since I got it. In the fall the back tire blew out and I finally got it fixed. I fixed it for a number of reasons. 1. I need to exercise and lose weight. I’m working hard to clean eat, get processed food out of our lives and eat a healthy plant-based, whole foods, vegan diet but that isn’t enough. I need to also be exercising more. 2. I can avoid public transit as much as possible. It’s not a secret that I am not a fan of our public transit. It somehow one an award for being the best transit system, yet is actually one of the most expensive and most inefficient. I’m not sure who else was in the running. But, it is definitely not the best, especially when they shut down huge chunks of the system every weekend. 3. I can go to way more cafes to write Redheads Writing In Cafes. BONUS: I can cycle to our local pool to cool off when summer heats up.
A few years ago, I was raw for 6 months. During that time I made fancy raw dishes, bought pre-made raw products, dehydrated, bought books and spent hours on the web researching. Because of this, I have a really good understanding of the raw food diet, what I need, what is and isn’t considered raw and so on. I discovered what foods work best for me and which I don’t like (flax seeds, bleech). I also discovered that if you aren’t mindful, it can become very expensive. This time around I don’t have that luxury and have been discovering ways to do it poor girl or as a friend says poh gurl style. These are a few things I realized can be done to keep it budget savvy and to keep you from getting bored.
1. Chinatown! The picture above, was my weekly trek to Toronto’s Chinatown. This food will all last me for a week. I still have veggies and some fruit left over from last Saturday’s trek. In that pile of food above is: baby bok choy, kale, romaine lettuce, garlic, cucumber, peaches, pears, apples, tangellos, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries and banana’s and they cost me, wait for it… $19.03. I did a bit of grocery store research and that same pile of food would have cost me approx $27 at No Frills and almost $35 at Loblaws. 2. Change it up! One of my main entrees is salad. It is soooooo very easy to get sick of it. Guess what, there are a million kinds of salad and a good portion of them don’t have lettuce. One of my favourite salad bases is baby bok choy. Damn delicious, you can also use kale or sprouts, sprouted beans, cabbage, cucumber, mixed veggies and the list goes on. Another trick if the majority of your salads have lettuce as the base, change the other ingredients or dressing each time. My favourite dressings are Lemon Tahini (1 lemon juiced, 3 tablespoons Tahini and water/a large jar of Tahini will last a really long time), Miso (miso and water), and Apple Cider Vinegar (apple cider vinegar, olive oil and sweetner (I use raw agave, but it is very expensive)). 3. Stick to the basics! In the last few years, the raw diet movement has become monumental. Thankfully people are becoming more and more aware of their health and the environment and are making a change. Preparing raw food is a lot of work and not everyone has 1-2 hours each day to slice and dice. The food industry and retail consumerism has caught on to this as well. There are a million different products out there to help save time, such as pre-made sauces, dressings, breads, dehydrated products, desserts and snacks. All very expensive as well. Last time I was raw, I invested in a dehydrator and did a majority of all that myself, though I will admit, I got sucked in with all the raw nut butter and other so called ‘staples’. Fresh is better. 4. Prepare ahead! Every night before I go to bed I prepare everything I am going to eat the next day. This way I only have to prep stuff once a day and if I have all my food ready, I won’t CHEAT and go buy a bag of crap. As I said above, there is a lot of prep and I know if I do it once a day rather than several times a day I am more efficient and it doesn’t feel like that much work. 5. Learn to spout! There is a tonne of protein and vitamins in sprouts AND you can grow them yourself in a matter of a couple days. All you need is a couple sterilized jars, some door mesh, a few elastics and a place to put the jars to drain while sprouting. I have included a link to a video on the very simple steps for sprouting. This video is brilliant and shows how easy it is and how few seeds you need to fill a jar.
6. Do it for your health! As I said in an earlier post, I’m not doing this for the weight loss, though it is a desirable side affect. Prior to starting this I was feeling gross, since starting that feeling has gone away, clothes are fitting better and there is very noticeable health change. This journey is about becoming healthy! 7. Know your limits! I know mine. I remember when I was 100% raw for 6 months, I had cravings for cooked food all the time. A combination of that, a huge stress that happened in my life at the time and a knee injury, I stopped being raw. I love cooked food too much to be 100% raw and after the detox will stick to a 75% raw diet. What I will be changing this time is the cooked food, must be made by me the majority of the time and be all natural ingredients, no more junk food. There are a few processed products I will continue to use, only because they do have healthy benefits. Because I know my limits and don’t want to fail this detox, I am allowing myself a cooked food day every 5th day, BUT the cooked food has to be homemade and all natural. Yesterdays cooked meal was a big bowl of miso noodle soup with broccoli and tofu.
8. Fresh Juice and Smoothies! Drink both or if you don’t have a juicer, smoothies are amazing. In the picture above is a 20 year old juicer that gets used almost daily. My favourite combination is carrot, apple, pear, beet and ginger. The juice I made today is missing the beet. I couldn’t find any in Chinatown. I never can, I don’t know what they have against beets! Another favourite is strawberry, banana, spinach smoothie. There is a store in Chinatown that sells huge bags of baby spinach for $3! I meant to grab some so I could do smoothies this week, but forgot. That will be on next weeks list.
I do have a confession to make though. I am having a really hard time giving something up. My best friend coffee. I tried to go cold turkey a couple times and ended up with a massive headache. This morning was the worst. I had to fast for blood work and and yowsah! I caved and had coffee. The problem is part habitual and partly addiction. This weekend I am weaning myself off, so Monday I have a fresh start, coffee free. I won’t be giving it up permanently, nor wine, just till the end of the detox so I can achieve the full benefits from it.
Since I mentioned it above, here are some links to my current favourite websites that I recommend for anyone curious about or want to try a raw detox.
I sit here with tears rolling down my face, missing someone harder than I ever have. A red duo-tang tight in my arms, in it’s pages, memories of a woman I think about daily. A woman who inspires me even though she is no longer here, a woman who would be telling me to smarten up and stop feeling sorry for myself, a woman who could give you a hug, followed by a laugh, washing away all your fears.
Today I started beating myself up again for not earning enough as an artist, not doing enough to succeed. I dreaded opening my mail box knowing there would be bills inside, bills I might not be able to pay. Questioning why I keep doing this if all I do is struggle. I put the key in the lock, turned and took a deep breath as I opened the door. Stuffed snugly in that mailbox, amongst the bills was a white padded envelope. My Mom had told me something special was on it’s way. Something one of a kind. I had no clue what she was sending me, but it was my Mom and I figured it would be something sent out of love. I wasn’t expecting this. I wasn’t expecting for my Grandmother to jump out at me.
As I pulled back the front red cover, I saw the title Recipes By Grandma and to the right of it, there she was in a black and white photo, in an apron flashing her famous smile. Instantly I was overwhelmed by how much I missed her, how long it’s been since I last heard her laugh. When we were kids, we couldn’t wait to go visit her, at Christmas we didn’t care about gifts, it was her shortbreads, the mittens and the thick handmade socks that we wanted. Each birthday for as long as I can remember, she gave me a tea cup and saucer, all of which I still use. She taught me how to knit and how to bake. She taught me that nothing is so bad that you can’t find humour in it. She taught me that I was important. I wished I could have been a better granddaughter, but I won’t fail to make her proud.
This book, this treasure is from my Aunt Margie. My aunt is a beautiful, generous woman who put this book together with her own hands. It contains all of my Grandma’s recipes (in her handwriting) and photos of her taken throughout her life. I recently told a dear friend that I was working on two cookbook ideas. One is almost written, the second was a book I wanted to do of home style cooking, converting my Grandmother’s recipes to Vegan versions. A week later, I hold the original recipes in my hands. Aunt Margie, you have no idea how much I cherish you or how much I love that you made me this book? Do you know I think about her every day, do you know I talk about her every single week? Do you know that every person who knows me, knows a Betty story? Earlier today on my Facebook I said I needed inspiration. My inspiration has arrived. You have both inspired me. This book wasn’t just about recipes, inside are photos I adore and others I have never seen before. The pages are bursting of Grandma Betty and Aunt Margie’s love. Aunt Margie even wrote a poem. I am going to reprint it here. Aunt Margie, I hope you don’t mind. It is the most beautiful thing anyone has written to me. Thank you. I love you!
My Mother – your Grandmother – one of the same
What a beautiful woman with a wonderful name
She cooked, she baked, she whistled, she sewed
In her wee wee house by the side of the road
She had many children and loved every one
But she adore her grandchildren each time they come
Her past time was knitting scarfs, mitts and socks
Which everyone received in their own special box
She never missed a birthday – everyone got a card
Enclosed was some money – on her pension – that was hard
But that did not stop her – our angel of old
Who had a memorable laugh and a heart of gold
I often sit and ponder over a cup of tea
and hear her words come back to me
“A pinch of this and a handful of that
and make sure that pastry is rolled out flat”
The thick Scottish brogue she used once in awhile
She had a pretty round face and a welcoming smile
She sang like a bird – could carry a tune
And if she could afford it – she would give you the moon
So enjoy this booklet I had fun putting together
It hold memories of Elizabeth – a wonderful treasure