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):
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.