Meatless Monday – A holiday post

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or an animal is at stake. Society’s punishment is small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.

~Martin Luther King Jr.~

Animal activists rejoice. Ringling brothers circus set to close.

And more animal welfare stories:

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Life Lessons Through Pastry

When life gives you lemons…
make lemon meringue pie. Baking is an art and a science. Some people love to do it and others don’t. In baking as in life, mishaps can occur; learn from it and move on. And the best part? The mistakes are (usually) edible (or you can macgyver them into something that is).

Lessons Learned through Pastry

Many qualities can be honed through the process of baking: patience, faith and resilience.

Bread baking requires patience. Whether it is during the proofing (leaving the dough to rise) or cooling* phase, bread cannot be rushed. The alchemy of flour, water, yeast and salt takes time.

*As tempting as it may be to eat bread fresh out of the oven, don’t! The cooling phase is the end part of the baking process. If you dig in too early, your bread will still be doughy and not fully baked. 

When baking, you have to trust that the ingredients you mix and the recipe you follow will yield the desired results. The proof really is in the pudding as you can’t taste test or preview your food until the food is baked; then it’s too late to change it. Have faith in the baking gods.

After kitchen fails and recipe disasters, one may want to give up and hang up their wooden spoons forever. The lesson learned through pastry is to get back up after being knocked down and bake on. Rise from the ashes of your burnt cake and resolve to come back stronger with your next bake.


Meatless Monday – Vegan cheese

It has often been said cheese is one of the hardest things to give up when going vegan. (Apparently bacon is another.) I started by giving up conventional cow’s milk cheese, mostly because I had become lactose intolerant. Though I found raw and/or organic cow’s milk cheese and organic goat’s milk cheese tolerable, I eventually gave those up as well. I was ok for awhile but still craved the texture and flavour that cheese imparted to foods. After trying various non-dairy alternatives, I came across a few brands that tasted and behaved similar to the real thing.

Some vegan cheese companies:

I also discovered the part to cheese I found so irresistible: fermentation. It’s this process, the use of microorganisms (eg. bacteria, yeast) to break down a substance, that also attracts me to sourdough bread. While earlier attempts to mimic the culinary characteristics of cheese had much room for improvement, today’s vegan cheese products can often rival the real thing. From using hard-to-pronounce ingredients to using real food and an artisan approach, vegan cheese making has come a long way. Soy, coconut oil and cashews are often used as a base for vegan cheese with additions of nutritional yeast, agar and tapioca flour for thickening/binding. Herbs and spices can also be added for a distinct flavour profile. Using rejuvelac, a fermented liquid, helps give that lactic acid flavour characteristic of fermentation. It is made by fermenting sprouted grains (eg quinoa, rice) in water. When done properly rejuvelac should contain probiotics, active enzymes and beneficial bacteria.

Quick fixes

Parmesan – Place some blanched almonds in a food processor and process until crumbly. Add a dash of salt and some nutritional yeast. You can also use walnuts in addition to or instead of almonds.

Cheese sauce – Combine some coconut milk, nutritional yeast, prepared mustard, puréed pumpkin and some salt, lemon juice and onion and garlic powder in a pot. Stir until melded together. Add some fake cheese shreds if desired. Mix with macaroni, broccoli or cauliflower and bake. For a pub style nacho cheese replace coconut milk with some vegan beer and serve as dip.

Link for the Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook:

A suggested list of great vegan cheeses: