|Stuffed Shells with Garlic Bread|
I realize this post is coming a little more then a week late, but oh well. In truth Easter has never really been a very significant holiday for me. Though I was raised in the Christian faith, I was never particularly religious, even as a kid. For me the holiday has always been about something else. When I was a kid it was presents and candy, when I grew up it was about socializing with family members I didn’t get to see regularly and eating heaping plates of good food.
|Breakfast - Sausage in a Blanket with Caramelized Apples &|
Chive and Cheddar Omelet
Typically I’ll take any excuse to socialize, throw a party, and cook a lot of food. Perhaps you remember my Easter Post from last year where I detailed everything I made and ate? It’s the kind of thing I really like to do, because I love to cook, and I especially love to cook delicious vegan food that inspires and impresses omnivores. This year however, I just wasn’t feeling it. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve been so busy with school and a million other things or because as I get older I just care less and less about these kinds of things. Maybe it’s a bit of both, but probably a lot of the latter, after all when I really think about it there really isn’t anything about Easter that makes me want to celebrate. I’m a Buddhist, my husband’s an Atheist so on that point alone we have no cause to celebrate, but then factor in that we’re the only two vegans attending the celebration - which means having to make all our own food, and transporting it, not to mention make enough food for others - and I just said “To hell with it.”
Since I’ve been super focused on my studies these past few months, really buckling down determined to have everything finished by the end of June I just didn’t feel like taking the time out to cook a bunch of dishes for a bunch of people who aren’t vegan anyway, for a holiday I don’t really give a shit about. That said, that didn’t mean we wanted to miss the socializing aspect of the holiday since we typically don’t get to see most of my husband’s side of the family on a regular basis - even though they all live close by. So rather then opt out of the festivities all together I decided to make a large breakfast for the two of us before we left, then make a nice dinner for us upon our return. The time in-between we could survive easily sans snacks.
|Chive and Cheddar Omelet|
Even though I love to cook, and love to show off my cooking to others I can’t tell you how happy I was about this decision. I felt really free, and a real sense of relief. Cooking for any large group is always hard, but cooking for a large group of picky omnivores who think vegan food comes from some alternate universe is undeniably frustrating. Trying to come up with a suitable dish - let alone half a dozen - that is creative yet familiar that pleases everyone is no easy task, and it often has me pouring over my 100+ cook book collection for days in a bit of a panic. Then once I decide what to make there’s the cost of the shopping, the time it takes to prepare everything, the logicists of the transport, what to do with leftovers. Ugh! I get a headache just thinking about it. Cooking for my husband and I is much simpler. I know what we like - virtually everything - and I know the kinds of meals we appreciate most. We’re easy, we enjoy food, and we’re not afraid to try new things.
This year I didn’t get up early and start cooking. I didn’t spend my whole day in the kitchen. I didn’t rush, I didn’t stress, I didn’t get frustrated, and there was no insanity. I wasn’t busy. I was completely and totally relaxed and I loved every minute of it. I got to walk my dog, I got to exercise, I got to spend time with my husband, I got to listen to music, I got to read, I got to just kick back and enjoy life for a while without any obligations. I didn’t have to worry about anything, I didn’t have to worry about getting meals on the table at a certain time, I didn’t have to worry about when so and so might arrive. Nothing. In fact I was so relaxed and enjoyed this new freedom so much I couldn’t help but start to wonder why I’d ever go ‘all-out’ for another holiday again. Why go through all that hassle? Especially considering my husband and I eat well every night and never need a special occasion to do so. If I want to make pie or cake, or cookies I do it. If I want to make appetizers, or dips, or other decadent offerings I do it. If I want to make a five course dinner on a regular old Wednesday night I do it. I don’t need Easter for any of that, or any other holiday.
|Apple Sage Sausage|
I’m thinking I’d much rather bag the stress and enjoy a quiet meal at home with my husband for all future holidays. Besides despite our cultures emphasis on food that’s not what holiday's are truly about anyway. They’re about family, about togetherness, about socializing, and you don’t need to eat to be social and whether or not there is food at any particular location that is suitable for my husband and I to eat has never been a mark of our happiness or enjoyment in that place.
So then, what exactly did we eat for Easter?
Well, I wanted to make a big hearty breakfast that would keep us full for the entirety of the celebration, until I could get us home and make us dinner. So I decided to make the Sausages in a Blanket with Glazed Apples from Lane Gold’s books "Vegan Junk Food." To accompany the sweetness of the dish I wanted to also serve something savory and so I chose the Chive and Cheddar Skillet Omelet from Jenny Engel & Heather Goldberg’s book "Spork-Fed."
Both of these dishes were great, but I was particularly fond of the omelet. I can’t make an omelet to make my life, it’s one culinary talent I’ve never been bestowed with. I can’t make an actual egg omelet without if falling apart, and I can’t make a tofu omelet without it falling apart. So I really appreciate the ease of the skillet omelet, and I love the recipes that include baking or broiling an omelet in a cast iron skillet. This particular omelet contained chives, Daiya Cheddar Cheese shreds, tofu, gluten-free flour, black salt, almond milk, baking powder, nutritional yeast, brown rice syrup, turmeric, miso and a few other things. Then you cook it on the stove top for a few minutes and put it in the broiler to finish it off. I decided I wanted to bake it rather then broil it and so I put it into the oven to bake but it took quite a bit longer then I expected and so I ended up finishing it on the stove top where the bottom burned a bit. I was really upset that I’d burnt the bottom but surprisingly the omelet was still crazy-delicious! Seriously, we loved this thing, my husband gobbled up two slices and he doesn’t even like Daiya!
Though I enjoyed the sausages in a blanket I was less impressed with this recipe if only because it was very sweet, and I find that since I did my juice fast back in January I’ve been gradually moving further and further away from sweets and sugar in general. It just doesn’t ‘do it’ for me anymore you know? And even on those occasions where I want a cake or brownie or cookie, if I actually eat one I never feel satisfied. I just think to myself ‘bleh- why did I eat that?’ Don’t get me wrong, this new attitude towards sugar is a really good thing, it’s exactly what I wanted, there are just so many delicious desserts out there to try, that I probably won’t like all that much anymore haha! You might not believe it but often times when I feel like desert a half glass of vanilla almond milk, or a tbsp of nut butter with some chocolate chips, or 1 or 2 pitted dates will totally do the trick. I get my taste of sweet, yet I feel totally satisfied afterwards! Anyway, back to the breakfast. My husband loved this and ended up eating 3 pancakes stuffed with sausage and apples. The recipe calls for Tofurky breakfast links but I used the homemade Apple Sage Sausages I made a month ago using Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman’s recipe from "500 Vegan recipes." They were really good, and worked well here. However rather then shape them into links when I’d originally made them I’d just shaped them into loaves and so for this recipe I have sausage rounds rather then links. Doesn’t matter, it all tastes the same right? Anyway you make the apples by boiling them in water and brown sugar until they’re glazed, soft, and saucy. Then you stuff a simple fluffy white flour pancake with sausage, and apple mixture and top if off with a bit of maple syrup. Like I said they were good, and the pancakes were super fluffy and moist but it was just a little too sweet for me.
|Caesar Salad with Maple Wheat Croutons|
For dinner when we got home I made the Caesar Salad with Maple Wheat Croutons from Chloe Coscarelli’s book Chloe’s Kitchen. I served it as the starter to her recipe for Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce accompanied by her recipe for The best Garlic Bread in the world - which really was one of the best garlic breads I’d ever eaten.
The salad was a pretty simple affair, romaine lettuce and capers in a homemade Caesar dressing that utilized tofu, Dijon mustard, and Miso to make it Caesar like. I think that this is definitely one of the better Vegan Caesar’s I’ve had, though I think Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Caesar from Appetite for Reduction is just a little bit better in my book. The croutons however were the real showstopper. I’m usually not a crouton person, I’ve never, ever liked them but I was intrigued by the maple component and so I decided to try them out and they were really good. They added a new exciting element to the salad.
The Garlic Bread as I said was really phenomenal. It was melted Earth Balance, Nutritional Yeast, garlic and fresh parsley slathered over a baguette and baked till crispy.
Then the shells were also really good. I particularly liked the Arrabbiata sauce which is one of the better spicy tomato sauces that I’ve tried. The ‘ricotta’ stuffing for the shells was also good and quite simple. Tofu, miso, basil, garlic, lemon juice - the usual suspects and even though it was really good and really creamy, and really delicious I think I liked the stuff shell recipe from Myoko Schinner’s "Artisan Vegan Cheese" just a little bit better. That almond ricotta is to DIE for, even my husband thinks so and he doesn’t like almonds!
Anyway, the whole dinner turned out perfectly and it was completely stress-free which was the best part. Originally I was also planning on making a dessert, a mocha fudge pudding cake but after the sweet breakfast I really wasn’t feeling much like a heavy sweet dessert and so I opted out. Instead I made a batch of Rum Raisin Ice Cream from Cathe Olson’s sensational Ice Cream book "Lick It!" Now before you say “hold up, I thought you weren’t into sweet!” Cathe’s recipes generally only call for ½ cup of sugar for an entire batch of ice cream and if you like you can use a little less. That means the ice cream is more rich then sweet, certainly it’s a lot less sweet then store-bought ice creams, and so it’s a perfect dessert. Since I found my ice cream maker and started using it I’ve been obsessed with home-made ice cream. This latest flavor wasn’t my favorite - not enough rum and too many raisins - however it was pretty tasty! My husband was especially pleased.
And that’s how we celebrated Easter this year. I hope you too had a good time which however you chose to celebrate the occasion, and if you don’t celebrate at all I hope you had a good weekend complete with some lovely Spring weather!
PS: Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the ice cream, but I promise on my next ice cream making adventure I’ll take loads of picks and post all about it!