As per my “About Danielle” page, I adore three day weekends. Saturday night feels like Friday night and you have what seems like limitless time. This weekend comes after my last “first week” back to school and I haven’t had too much homework as of yet, so I have had a lot of time to get organized again, work on giving my research a little TLC and, as usual, trying some new things in the kitchen. It’s even more fun when you get to share some of the cooking fun with good friends, which is exactly what happened last night.
My friend, Kate, and I both work on a lot of projects in our department together and she suggested we maybe do a vegan dinner + wine night ordeal this weekend to get some work done. Never one to turn down sharing vegan food or good company or wine, I was all for it and so was our other friend, Jackie. It’s always a strange thing, suggesting vegan food, to omnivorous friends since everyone’s level of comfort with non-traditional foods varies so much. For example, I love tofu and would eat it probably every single way under the sun, but I do realize that it is an acquired taste. Being vegan, to me at least, is about striving to find balance and understanding in everyone’s differences. Just because I don’t personally align with meat or dairy consumption doesn’t mean I have anything close to a right of imposing my beliefs or sometimes bizarre food choices on others. Options, my friends — always give people options.
I suggested my favorite chili that I always make (and Jackie has tried it so I knew she was already okay with it), tofu cutlets if they wanted to get a little bit more creative, or pasta…the most agreeable and simple option. Pasta won the majority, which was more than okay with me.
Whole wheat noodles (egg free, of course), tomato basil sauce (I used Culinaria and it was lovely) and steamed green beans. Probably the easiest vegan meal ever to exist, but there is something special about sharing it with friends who take such a genuine interest in my veganism and are so open minded about it. I decided to make something sweet as a surprise to take over, so I tried a new recipe for vegan brownies.
As I know I have said before, baking is tough enough for me already. With baking, you can’t cut corners or get lazy — everything must be measured with precision and with minimal substitutions. For vegan baking, some swaps can be made (flaxseed for egg, applesauce for butter, black bean puree for flour) but it’s never quite the same. I don’t remember when I found this particular recipe, but you will notice that it doesn’t use any ingredients that normally wouldn’t be found in brownies. Just minus the eggs.
The batter was extremely thick but didn’t stick to the pan, mixer bowl, or spatula that badly. The result? Very cake-like brownies (I’m sure my Dad would have liked that) but delicious nonetheless. I threw in some Enjoy Life chocolate chips and they seemed to be a success.
By the time I got home and under the duvet after dinner and working and chatting for hours, it was somewhere near 3 a.m. It was so much fun and I’m so lucky to have such wonderful friends to work and also laugh with. Plus, they accept my veganism as something interesting, which makes the experience so much sweeter.
I was so excited to make breakfast again this morning, especially after trying out a new breakfast recipe yesterday morning. I stumbled upon Meghan’s blog, Oatgasm, through The Oatmeal Artist‘s page and was instantly impressed with her writing style and photos and frankly delicious looking creations. It will come as a shock to no one, then, that when I found her Earl Grey Bruleed Oatmeal, I was smitten.
It’s always a good morning when I get to break out my Le Creuset cookware, especially if it is for the first time. My parents got me this gorgeous set of square dishes for Christmas — one is an 8×8 and the other is a mini — and I broke the mini in for the first time yesterday morning. There are so many things I could say about this dish, but suffice it to say that it is heavenly. It’s filling but not to where it feels dense or heavy (sometimes, oatmeal can make me feel as such when you add banana and nuts and whatever else). It’s simple, takes just a few extra minutes in the morning, and yields a delightful result.
I don’t have a kitchen torch (and food a good reason that is to be explained soon) so I just stuck it in the oven broiler for five minutes to create that delicious topping. Now: I know some people who are under the impression that I am pretty good at cooking and am neat and tidy in the kitchen. Let me wreck that image really quickly. During the nearly three years I have lived in this apartment, I have:
- Accidentally set a kitchen towel alight
- Set a plastic bag filled with carrots on a hot burner (I turned the wrong burner on)
- Created a fire on said burner
- Set off the smoke alarm on three separate occasions
- Accidentally let my almond milk boil over on the stove in the mornings because I don’t pay attention and I’m really haphazard
- Melted a hole through a brand new bag of brown sugar, thus resulting in a burner with melted plastic all over it and brown sugar all over my stovetop. (That was this morning)
…at least I learned where the heat outlet is for my broiler.
Clearly, I shouldn’t be allowed to use plastic near heat sources, so it’s probably a good thing I don’t own a kitchen torch. After the burner is all the way cooled, I am going to spend some time Googling “how to remove melted plastic from electric burner” and get to work. Worth it? Yeah, I’d say so. I had a delicious breakfast after a night well spent.
Have a great three day weekend…the best of its kind.