Monthly Archive for September, 2011

Tonight on Appetite City: Fine Dining

Fine Dining
A special night out on the town requires more than just your average food fare. It takes a “Fine Dining” experience composed of select foods, the right décor and perfect lighting. Join host William Grimes as he uncovers the stories of how these small, exclusive, elegant and elite restaurants found a home in New York City. Explore one of the oldest fine dining establishments in the City. Then visit with the talented team behind the groundbreaking 11 Madison Park.

I’ll be making one of Delmonico’s most famous desserts, originally known as “Alaska, Florida.”  This is the last episode of the season! Tonight @ 8:30 on NYC LIFE.

I know I’ve been behind getting the full episodes up on my blog; I’ll catch up next week!

Events: Bake for a Good Cause?

The City Reliquary, a charming little museum in Brooklyn, is hosting a bake sale benefit.  Care to bake and donate some love?  It’s worth it; I donated historic baked goodies two years ago, and it literally launched my career.  This author of this blog post and the director of this video both encountered my treats for the first time at this bake sale.  Countless other connections have been made, just because I delivered a few cookies to help a great museum.

Details below.

****

I wanted to let all of you know about a really fun event to benefit the City Reliquary Museum.

It’s called the Havemeyer Sugar Sweets Festival, a bake sale, baking competition and celebration of baked goods.

When? Saturday, Oct 15 from 10am to 4pm
Where? The City Reliquary, located at 370 Metropolitan Avenue (between Havemeyer and Roebling)

Um, What? The City Reliquary is an all-volunteer museum that celebrates everyday New Yorkers and everyday New York history.  The Reliquary hosts rotating exhibitions by local artists, historians and schoolkids; weekly events; education programs; and annual block parties. The Reliquary also collects utterly unique bits of New York history. http://www.cityreliquary.org/

How Can I Help?

1. Donate Baked Goods!

We are looking for bakers and sweets-makers (you!) to donate their fresh-baked yummies to the Festival.

Cookies, cupcakes, brownies, bars, tarts, quick breads…any fresh baked treat is welcome.  All proceeds will go toward the City Reliquary.
2. Enter The Best Baked Goods competition!

Are you the city’s best home baker? Strut your stuff!  We will be determining the:

  • Best Cookie
  • Best Brownie/bar
  • Best Cupcake
  • Most New York baked good

A team of professional bakers will judge your treats. We will award great prizes to all winners. Please be sure to bring enough treats to enter the competition and to sell.

 

3. Come and pig out!.  There will be plenty of treats to try!

Questions? Please contact Jeff Tancil at jtancil@yahoo.com

 

Origin of a Dish: The Ice Cream Cone

Waffle Cone?

I had some custard left over from demoing ice cream making at the Brooklyn Brainery over Labor Day weekend, so I decided to toss it in my ice cream maker and enjoy a little made-from-scratch ice cream at home.  Plus, I wanted to try out these neat tip I learned during class:  I team-taught my session with Soma, one of the founders of the Brainery.  At the end of the class, students could pitch their dream ice cream flavors, and Soma would explain how to make them by using different techniques to incorporate flavors.  To add a “swirl,” like chocolate,  you take the ice cream out of the ice cream maker and you layer it in a Tupperware  much like a parfait:

How to make a chocolate swirl.

Then you put it in the freezer.  When you scoop it, it comes out like a chocolate swirl. I layered my vanilla bean ice cream with U-Bet Chocolate Syrup.

For my class, I did a lot of research on the history of ice cream in America.  I got really curious about the origin of the ice cream cone when I stumbled across this article from Saudi Aramco World: Zalabia and the First Ice Cream Cone.  SAW is a cool publication from which I’ve previously cooked some medieval Middle Eastern recipes.

The idea of an ice cream cone has been around for a few hundred years–they were known as “cornets” in Europe.  But as far as modern American cones, SAW recounts and ice cream cone legend I have heard before:

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also called the 1904 World’s Fair, was the largest the US had seen since the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It covered some 500 hectares (1235 ac) and showed off such inventions as the year-old airplane, the radio, the telephone switchboard and the silent movie… (There were also less memorable attractions, among them a butter sculpture of President Theodore Roosevelt and a bear made out of prunes.) With more than 18 million visitors passing through the Exposition over its seven-month run, there were also scores of vendors offering much to eat.

(Ernest) Hamwi and his wife, the story goes, took their meager life’s savings and invested them in a zalabia booth, joining other like-minded immigrants from the Levant in attempting to transplant to the US the crisp, round, cookie-like snack so popular back home. Each zalabia was baked between two iron platens about the size of a dinner plate, hinged together and held by a handle over a charcoal fire. They were served sprinkled with sugar. The Hamwis wound up doing their cooking next to one of the approximately 50 ice-cream stands dotted around the fair, though exactly who owned the stand is in some doubt: It was either Arnold Fornachou or Charles Menches. Whoever it was, his ice cream sold faster than Hamwi’s zalabia—so fast, in fact, that one day he ran out of clean glass cups. At this moment, some say, the ice-cream man saw the possibilities of the zalabia; others claim the zalabia man saw the possibilities of the ice cream.

It’s Hamwi himself who originated this story, in an ice cream trade journal, and is generally credited with inventing the ice cream cone.   However, his story has never been proven, nor has there been any evidence found that he had a booth at the fair at all.

But people do seem to think that the 1903 Exposition is the time and place that ice cream and cone met, and that the pizzelle-like zalabia had something to do with it.  I got curious to make a zalabia, which hail from Lebanon, Syria, Greece and Turkey.  However, when a scoured the internet for a recipe, all I could come up with were recipes for north-African zalabia, a yeast-risen, deep-fried dough with honey syrup.  Not the same.

I ended up trying out this Martha Stewart recipe for waffle cones, but being that I don’t have a pizzelle maker, I ended up making waffle cones.  The result was freaking delicious, but not what I had set out to do.

If anyone out there has a zalabia recipe, hit me up! In the meantime, read the rest of the fascinating Saudi Aramco World article here.

Tonight on Appetite City

Diners
Host William Grimes explores that favorite New York institution where breakfast for dinner is considered the norm and where food travels from the grill to the table at fast-food speed. Follow Grimes as he uncovers the story of the “Diner” from its origin as a lunchroom to feed the masses to a refuge for female shoppers to its place today. Join our historic gastronomist as she recreates a lost recipe from the famous Schraffts.

Tonight I make some certified stoner food.  Tune in @8pm on NYC Life.

Going Vegan Day 5: A Vegan Feast!

Nut Roast!

I kept breakfast and lunch simple today: oatmeal with soy milk in the morning;  almond butter on coconut bread with banana slices for lunch.  The coconut bread was really tasty, and also a throwback to the 1910 cookbook.

Cocoanut Bread — 1 lb. whole wheat flour, 1 lb. white flour, ½ lb. cocoanut meal, some cane sugar.
I used 1 cup of cane sugar for this recipe, and the coconut shreds I used were also sweetened.  I also added 1 tsp of baking powder.  The bread was delicious!

In the evening, I opened my doors to 13 guests ready to given veganism a try.  Some were seasoned vegan veterans, some were hardened omnivores.  The Menu:

 

First Course
Autumn Salad
Shaved Cabbage, Grated Beets and Apples, Mint, Lemon Juice and Toasted Walnuts.

Second Course
Semolina Soup
with Mizuna greens

Third Course
Pine Nut Roast
with Sauteed Spinach and Spaghetti Squash

Fourth Course
Continental Tart
Coconut Bread with Homemade Blackberry and Blueberry Lime Jam
or Malt Syrup

 

The first course was another salad recommended in Henderson’s 1945 book.  It was light, refreshing, and delicious.  The second course was the Semolina Soup I made earlier this week, flavored with Marmite.  Everyone was bowled over by the soup, and wanted the recipe to make it at home.  I passed around the Marmite jar for everyone to ogle.

The third course was Nut Roast, adapted from the 1910 recipe I made earlier this week, with some adjustments according to Henderson’s 1945 recipe.  Henderson gives several suggestions as to how her basic recipe can be served; I roasted mine in individual portions, and served it on top of spinach and spaghetti squash.

When I mixed this recipe, I simply put a bowl on top of my kitchen scale. I dumped the ingredients in one at a time and weighed as I went along.  Below, is my adapted version of the recipe.  I used dried herbs from my mother’s garden.

***
Nut Roast

8 oz pine nuts, coarsely chopped if large.
8 oz bread crumbs
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, skinned and pulverized.
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp sage
2 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

1. Use hands to mix all ingredients, added a little water or vegetable stock if there is not enough liquid.  Press into a pie plate or individual ramekins.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the top is browned.

***

The nut roasts, cooked in individual star-shaped ramekins, delighted my guests.  For the vegans, it was the first time they had ever had a nut roast, and were excited to try it.  One guest, who went to school in Scotland, informed us that nut roasts are still a common vegetarian option, at least in her school cafeteria.

And for dessert, I served an apple Continental Tart, also from Henderson’s book.

Continental Tart!

 

***
Continental Tart

For the Crust:

5 oz. whole wheat flour
5 oz. breadcrumbs
5 oz Soy baking butter substitute
5 oz brown sugar
2 oz ground almonds (I ran almonds in my food processor until coarsely ground)
Lemon Juice

For the Filling:

6 medium baking apples
1/2 cup mixed, dried fruit
1/2 cup apple cider
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg.

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, adding enough lemon juice to make a dough.  Leave overnight in the refrigerator, then press into the bottom and sides of a round cake or pie pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until crust is puffy and brown.

2. In the meantime, pare and core apples, and slice them into 1/4 wide slices.  Cook, covered, over medium heat with spices, fruit and cider until tender.  Pour into baked crust and set aside.

3. 15 minutes before serving, place tart in the oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool 5 minutes; cut and serve.

***

The tart was also a big hit, provoking inquiries about the contents of the crust.  Margarine, I discovered, is not vegan!  It has whey in it!  So be sure to use a soy spread (or butter, if it doesn’t matter to you.)

We had a second dessert of slices of coconut bread, spread with some of my mother’s homemade jam (Blueberry Lime and Blackberry) or dribbles of malt syrup, which the vegans had never heard of before and were very enthusiastic about.

Our dinner table conversation turned to the origins of veganism, as well as why people do or don’t go vegan today.  “It’s not cheap,” a vegan friend admitted.  “It can be very expensive to choose vegan products.”  We went on the discuss that a lot of the methods that allow the cheap production of food are also the methods that can be deemed unethical, like caged hen production of eggs.  I pointed out that perhaps it was a policy change that was needed: “We’d all like to be buying cruelty free, hormone free milk, but I don’t think anyone in my neighborhood could afford it.”

“We don’t need to drink as much milk as we consume,” he answered.  He suggested consuming less of a better quality, but that “…It can be different if we’re talking about trying to feed your family of four.”

The conversation danced around a variety of topics, but focused on the food, and ideals, at hand.  There was a discussion about the “preachiness” and “pushiness” associated with veganism.   A dear friend and long-time vegan attended, who was the inspiration for the entire experiment.  He piqued my interest in vegan cuisine without ever pressing upon me the ideals behind veganism; he let me start asking those questions myself, and I admire him for it.  He amicable joked about the outspokenness of the vegan movement : “How do you know the vegan at a dinner party?  Don’t worry, he’ll tell you.”

We talked about the difficulties of finding vegan products:  for example, learned that filtered wine is not vegan; it uses isinglass, an extract from the swim bladders of fishes.  Animal products appear in the most unlikely of places.

And most of all, we talked about how delicious the food was.  Everyone who attended, vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore all agreed the dishes were excellent, and asked for recipes for each one.  All said they would make these foods again, just for the pleasure of them.  And then my friend Emily rose to give a toast:

“Lohman,” she said, raising a glass of vegan wine high, “Every time I get invited over for dinner, I’m always worried.  It’s always like, ‘come eat my beaver’ or my bear or my vegan food or whatever.  And I always think ‘Eeee…Well, at least the company will be good.’  But then I come, and the food is always, always delicious.  You have an amazing talent for making bizarre foods taste amazing.”

We cheersed, and spent the rest of the evening guzzling bottles of wine.  The next day, my boyfriend and I broke our vegan fast in the evening with sloppy joes and chocolate chip cookies.

There is a lot of debate, and  a lot of passion, surrounding the topic of veganism.  I’ve enjoyed this past week,  but I would not adopt veganism forever.  My line of work is food and I feel I would never want to limit myself in regards to what I can and cannot eat.  Additionally, I do believe an ethical, omnivorous diet is possible.  I will continue to respect and admire my vegan friends, and this project has inspired other to try out veganism:  my friends Sharon and Kathy are going vegan this week, you can follow their adventures here.

I think I’m going to leave it at that, but I’m really curious to hear from you, dear readers: What do you think of veganism?

Going Vegan Day 4: Why Have I Never had a Soy Chai Latte Before?

Oatmeal with cinnamon, raw sugar, and grated apple.

In the morning, I decided to give this oatmeal thing another shot.  But no more muesli–I cooked rolled oats in Apple Broth, with a little brown sugar and cinnamon.  Then, when it was all hot and steamy, I topped it off with a grated apple.  This. Was awesome.  The softness of the oatmeal with the textural crunch of the apple was perfect; I would definitely make it a part of my normal breakfast routine.

I had another day of running around in Manhattan ahead of me, and after a morning meeting, I felt my blood sugar crashing.  I decided I needed a Starbucks, not just for the chai, but for the bathroom.  I know I talk about my bowels a lot on this blog.  But what goes in is linked to what comes out.  During this week, my boyfriend and I have both experienced a demanding and urgent regularity in the movement of our bowels.  Now you know.

After taking care of business, I ordered up a chai with soy milk, which I would have never had gotten if not for this experiment.  And it was utterly delicious.  The soy milk added a nuttiness that married well with the chai spices.  I remember ages ago someone told me to try a chai with soy milk, and I poo-pooed them.  “Soy!?” I thought, “Blech! I only drink cows.”  But I was wrong:  my soy chai may have been the best chai I’ve ever had.

When I returned home in the late afternoon, I mixed myself up a gorgeous, late summer salad.  Henderson gives charming advice on salad building, offering suggestions for Foundation (lettuces and other greens), Interest (tomatoes, carrots, edible flowers, fruits), and Piquancy (horseradish, fresh mustard, and  garlic “if appreciated.”).  I did a variation on her “Summer Salad,” with blackberries and dill.  By the way, most of my veggies for this week came direct from a farmer upstate, via the Long Island City CSA.

Summer salad, with mixed greens, tomato, leek, blackberries, dill and olive oil vinaigrette.

Dinner was “gnocchi,” which was unlike any gnocchi I’ve ever had before:

I loaded them up with dried herbs from my mother’s garden and served them fried with sauteed spinach and onions.  I made a quick soup with a small squash and carrot, and my boyfriend picked up some pumpkin ale on his way home with work.  So Fall!  Dinner was good, but at the same time, I began to grow tired of all of my meals centering around one or another type of moosh.

“Gnocchi,” with squash soup and a pumpkin ale.

I also baked up a Malt Cake, which use malt syrup as a sweetener.  It tastes like malted milk and molasses had a baby.  But the cake was a bit of a fail.  Henderson promises “Although this cake contains no sugar, it is sweet from the fruit and the syrup,” my boyfriend took one bite and said “Oh no. No, that has nothing to do with sweet.”

My boyfriend and I spent some time reflecting on the past few days; the next day would be our last as vegans.

“I think this project has expanded my knowledge of delicious things,” he told me.  “It’s all pretty good–but at the same time, it’s day after day of things that are not meat ground up and stuck back together to vaguely resemble meat.”

Agreed.  One more day left, and I’m throwing a special dinner party for some Real Vegans.

Going Vegan Day 3: I am a Terrible Vegan

Muesli. Ewwsli.

Today I moved from 1910 to 1945, the year that the first cookbook to use the word “vegan” was published: Vegan Recipes.  This book is tremendously hard to find; in the day and age of the Internet, one thinks anything can be found online.  Google books: nothing.  New York Public Library archives: the books was stolen in 1952. Vegan Recipes to not seem to exists in a hard copy or otherwise anywhere in America.  Eventually, I had to write London, where the book was originally published, and after some rigmarole I tracked down a copy.  I’m hoping that one day soon the book will be available online, as it is such an important work in terms of culinary history.

The author, Ms. Fay K. Henderson, write an introduction to veganism that focuses less on the threat of disease and more about “being healthy.”  She moves to the more familiar ground of moral and ethical considerations, and uses a lot of words like “wholesome,” when describing what she calls “The Vegan Way of Life.”  I had been looking forward to cooking from her book; the recipes seemed more like real dishes, with layers of flavor.  Breakfast, however, was a disaster.

I decided to make muesli. According to Henderson, “This raw diet dish originated by Dr. Bircher-Benner and recommended for breakfast use.  It consists of whole cereals (crushed or flaked) which have been soaked fro 12 hours in water to which has been added some sweetening and a little lemon juice, when available.”  I used something slightly better than water, that Henderson recommended, called Apple Broth: the peels and cores of apples, simmered gently in water.  The result is a pale pink, slightly sweet broth with a distinct apple taste.  Interesting idea.

I soaked some rolled outs, added some dried fruit, and shoved a heaping spoonful into my maw.  Disgusting. Cold. Gooshy. Miserable.   A fairly sad way to start my day.  I ate out the fruit and dumped the rest.

I spent most of Thursday running: work in the morning, a meeting  in the afternoon, a lecture in the evening.  In between, I ducked into a coffee shop to finish writing my talk, and I realized I needed to eat something.  I perused the cafe’s sandwich list and approached the register.

“Okay, give me an ice tea and a veggies sandwich.”  The barista typed in my order.

“No! Wait…it’s got cream cheese.  Okay, give me a peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich.”  Type, type, type.

“No! Wait! No Honey!  Can I get it with no honey? No Honey! ,I uuuh…forgot I was vegan.”

She must have thought I was crazy.  I apologized profusely, and ended up with a peanut butter and banana sandwich with blueberry compote.  Really tasty.

Afterwards, I swung by home to make some cookies for the lecture I was giving in the evening, a talk at the Brooklyn Historical Society about using historic recipes to inspire contemporary cooking.  The cookies were a new recipe I was testing, and they were packed full of butter.  But I needed to try one to make sure it tasted right.  Butter, right into my mouth.

Post lecture I needed a quick, hot meal–I was starving.  And I also needed to feel better about myself and all my vegan failings.  I pulled up Henderson’s recipes for Bachelor Dish:

Here’s how I made it:

***
Bachelor Dish

4 medium potatoes
4 medium carrots
1 leek
Or any other assortment of root vegetable, chopped.

1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Unsweetened Peanut Butter
Fresh parsley, to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste.

1.  Fill a pot with two cups of water and a little salt.  Add vegetables, cover, and boil about 10 minutes or until tender.

2.  Drain liquid and add soy sauce, pepper, and parsley.  Still until parsley is just wilted.   Add peanut butter; stir until peanut butter is melted and vegetables are evenly covered with sauce.  Serve with fake meat and more soy sauce, if desired.

***

The original recipe calls for “Vessop,” which after some googling, I found was often used as a substitute for soy sauce.  “Tinned nut meat” could have been Protose or Nuttolene, Dr. Kellogg creations sold by Kraft, or any number of their veggie meat product spin-offs.  I chose the modern version, soy-based “cutlets.”

Dinner was excellent.  Smelled amazing while it cooked, tasted even better on my plate.  It was super quick to prepare and the simple, peanut and soy sauce was perfect.  Exactly what I wanted at the end of a long day.  My boyfriend and I both agreed we would make it again–although probably with real chicken

Bachelor Dish – quick boiled veggies in a peanut sauce with a bit of “tinned nut meat.”  A wonderful dinner!

Today was hard; this has been the most difficult diet to stick to.  Not out of hunger, or out of a craving for other foods, but it is incredibly difficult to seek out foods that don’t have animal products in them.  I’m developing a sympathy for people who have chosen this way of life; it’s exceptionally hard to maintain.

Going Vegan Day Two: Marmite and Grape Juice Stew

Semolina Soup.  I know; it doesn’t look like much.  It left it on the stove for my boyfriend to warm up at lunch, and he threw it away because he thought it had gone bad.  Nope, that’s just the way it looks.

My day began simply with leftover apple bread and hot tea with almond milk.  Almond milk, by the way, has been around a long time: there are recipes for it in medieval manuscripts.

I had to go to work, so I made my lunch in advance: Semolina Soup.

Semolina Soup– 4 oz. semolina, 2 chopped onions, 1 tablespoonful gravy essence, 2 quarts water or vegetable stock

I don’t know what initially drew me to this recipe; perhaps the odd, porridge like use of Semolina, a high gluten flour normally used for pastas.  Or the reference to “gravy essence,” which had a helpful footnote:

There are several brands of wholly vegetable gravy essence now on the market. The best known are ‘Vegeton,’ ‘Marmite,’ ‘Carnos,’ and Pitman’s ‘Vigar Gravy Essence.’

Although “Vigar Gravy Essence” seems to have fallen by the wayside, I knew Marmite was still around (What is Marmite? Read up here).  I had given it a whirl a few years ago when handed a sandwich from a friend who has a penchant for such things.  I’ll try anything once, and after the first bite, I found it inexplicably enjoyable.  I was curious how it would taste as a soup flavoring.
It turned out quite good, so let me give you the expanded version of this recipe:
***
Semolina Soup (Recipe halved, serves 2)
2 oz. Semolina flour
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoons gravy essence
2 cups vegetable broth (canned)
2 cups water.
1. In a saucepan, sautee the onions in olive oil until brown.  Add pepper and a little salt.  Add broth and water, bring to a low boil.  The liquid should be just bubbling.
2. Slowly add the semolina flour, stirring constantly. I like to use a sifter to ensure a soft, steady stream of flour, which will prevent gummy lumps from forming.
3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the porridge has thickened to your taste.
***
And that’s all! It was ready in about 20 minutes.  But it smelled really unappealing while I was cooking it.  Perhaps it was too early in the morning? Perhaps the order was mingling with my freshly toothpasted mouth?  I packed it in a thermos and took it to work.
At lunchtime, I busted it out, still warm in my thermos.  And it was delicious!  It was so good, I made my coworker drink some, and she liked it too!  The Marmite tasted meaty, as though the soup had been made with a beef broth.  It was remarkably like french onion soup:  warm, filling, comforting; it made me think of fall days.  I’m planning a vegan dinner party for Saturday, and I’m thinking of serving this as the first course, perhaps with some greens stewed up in it, and a crunchy crouton made with apple bread.
Dinner was Mexican Stew:
Mexican Stew — 1 cupful brown beans, 2 onions, 2 potatoes, 4 tomatoes, 1 oz. sugar, 1 cupful red grape-juice, rind of 1 lemon, water.  Soak beans overnight; chop vegetables in chunks; boil all ingredients together 1 hour.
Mexican Stew.
Again, I was attracted by the unique flavor: grape juice as a soup base?  And what does that have to do with Mexico?  The final verdict from both my boyfriend and I was that it “tasted like soup.”  Good, but unremarkable.  The grape juice flavor wasn’t prominent, but it had a concord grape aftertaste I found unappealing.
Tomorrow, Veganism 1940’s style.

Tonight on Appetite City: Street Food

“Street Food” is a must-have for many New Yorkers. Join host William Grimes as he looks at this current food fad that actually dates back to the turn of the twentieth century, when falafel carts were wheel barrows filled with yams, pizza trucks were push carts filled with pies of every kind imaginable and hot dogs were a new and unusual food. Discover what surprising street food our historic gastronomist whips up and listen in with Grimes as he speaks with a Lower East Side author.

Tune in to watch me make a suprising turn-of-the century street food!  8pm on NYC Life.

Or, if you’re out and about, catch me at the Brooklyn Historical Society talking all about Historic Gastronomy!  7pm tonight, tickets at the door; More info here.

Going Vegan: Day 1, Lunch & Dinner

My first foray in to vegan cookery: Tomato, kale, and spinach soup with toasted pine nuts and raw radishes.

After a mid-morning snack of almond butter with maple syrup on whole wheat bread, I got started on my first vegan lunch.  I was very apprehensive of my first two days of veganism; No Animal Food, while presenting some very convincing points, also presents some truly horrendous recipes.  For example, my lunch of Spinach Soup No. 1

Spinach Soup No. 1 lb. spinach, 1 lb. can tomatoes, 1 tablespoonful nut-milk (Mapleton’s), 1½ pints water. Dissolve nut-milk in little water, cook all ingredients together in double-boiler for 1½ hours, strain and serve.

Most of the recipes in the book are equally plain.  At the risk of sounding sexist, this book was written by a man.  In 1910.  Who was a vegan.  He’s not the first person I would turn to for culinary advice; his collection of recipes are more like instructions on how to make something to eat than recipes for a meal.
I wrestled with how much I would allow myself to alter the recipes without losing their historic nature.  In the end, here’s what I I did:  I added kale in addition to the spinach and two teaspoons of fresh herbs as well as pepper and salt.  I don’t know what “Mapleton’s Nut Milk” is, I think some powder to mix with water, so I used about 1/4 cup of almond milk.  I did cook this in a slap-dash double boiler, a glass bowl set in a stock pot, and in 90 minutes it was tender and soup like.  To add some texture, I toasted pine nuts and added a few slices of fresh radishes.  I feel like maybe I diverged from the initial recipe too much, although I used ingredients that would have been on hand in the average 1910 vegan household.
In the end, it tasted ok.  My boyfriend and I ate big bowls with slices of toast, and it was fine.  Not bad; not great either.
I wanted to make dinner a little more special: I halved a large acorn squash, and covered it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sage and put it in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour.  This turned out delicious.  I also decided to bake a bit of bread:

Apple Bread 2 lbs. entire wheat meal doughed with 1 lb. apples, cooked in water to a pulp…prepared as follows: Mix ingredients with water into stiff dough; knead well, mould, place in bread tins, and bake in slack oven for from 1½ to 2½ hours (or weigh off dough into ½ lb. pieces, mould into flat loaves, place on flat tin, cut across diagonally with sharp knife and bake about 1½ hours).

These instructions aren’t as clear as they could be, so here are my proportions (quantities halved):

***
Apple Bread

2 large apples cooked soft with a little water
¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole wheat meal
A loaf pan sprayed with non stick cooking spray

1. Pare and core the apples; cube.  Put into a pot with a little water, and cook over medium heat until soft enough to mush to a pulp.  Feel free to use different types of baking apples, some that stay solid and some that fall apart into sauce, to add different textures.

2. Add almond milk to hot apples and stir.  Sift together whole wheat flour and baking powder, add to apple mixture.  Press into a loaf pan and bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees, or until done.

***

The bread was a little gummy, a little dense, but somehow really good.  It complimented both the squash, and my main dish, a nut roast:

Nut Roast No. 1 1 lb. pine kernels (flaked), 4 tablespoonfuls pure olive oil, 2 breakfastcupfuls breadcrumbs, ½ lb. tomatoes (peeled and mashed).  Mix ingredients together, place in pie-dish, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and bake until well browned.

I coarsely chopped pine nuts which added a nice texture; I didn’t have plain bread crumbs, so I used “Italian Spice” bread crumbs, which were delicious.  The tomatoes, which I mashed until chunky, were nice bright spots of acidity.  Basically, I threw all three of the above dishes into a 375-400 degree oven at various times, and an hour later, I had dinner.

Dinner: Brown!  Roasted squash, nut roast, and apple bread.
My boyfriend, a voracious carnivore, dug into dinner with enthusiasm.  “This is delicious! It tastes like fall!  Being vegan is great!” Those are actual, direct quotes.  And I’d have to agree: dinner was really, really good, and very satisfying.  For dessert, we had baked bananas.  Weird looking, and tasted about how you’d imagine: like a hot soft banana.
Baked Bananas- Prepare the desired number by washing and cutting off stalk, but do not peel. Bake in oven 20 minutes, then serve.
It’s not until after dinner, when I was cleaning up, that I thought to double check the ingredients on the “Italian Bread Crumbs.” I was horrified to discover it contained honey, skim milk, and buttermilk.  Crap.  So I messed up day one of veganism; but overall, the food was not bad at all.

Pretty weird…Baked banana.