November 29th is National Chocolates Day! More importantly, (more important than chocolate?!), today marks my 100th post and, I’m sad to say, the end of this blog. A year ago I began this food adventure, culinarily challenged and ready to learn my way around the kitchen. One hundred recipes later I’m proud to say the microwave is no longer the most important appliance in my life (long live the hair straightener!) and I no longer shudder at the thought of a potluck. Looking back on the past year, it’s crazy to think about the amount of time I spent in the kitchen, discovering new favorite foods and completely butchering unsuspecting recipes. It’s a good thing this blog is ending just as I head off on my next overseas adventure, as I’m not sure what I’d do with all that extra time.. or those extra calories. I want to thank you all for being so supportive.. for the helping hands in the kitchen, the encouraging comments when I got it right, the persevering swallows (fake smiles attached) when I didn’t. Thank you Christine for following along from afar, and consistently commenting on every single holiday. Brian and I ended my yearlong adventure today by making chocolate truffles, dipping half of them in cocoa powder and the other half in red sprinkles. They’re delicious (is chocolate ever anything but?!) and a great way to end this yearlong adventure. One nation, filled with food holidays, celebrating, with flour and sugar for all. AMERICA!
November 28th is National French Toast Day! Since going vegan, there have been a few recipes that I’ve avoided for fear that without eggs, they just won’t taste the same. French toast was one of those recipes. I love french toast, and the thought of bad dairy-free french toast was enough to make me not attempt it at all. But this morning, with a recipe from The 30 Day Vegan Challenge that stated ‘once you try this incredibly easy and delicious dish, you’ll ask yourself why we ever use eggs for this quintessential breakfast treat at all,’ Nonnie and I got to cooking. Slices of sourdough bread dipped in a cup of almond milk that had been whisked with some cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. That was it. We heated some vegan butter in a pan and a few minutes later, with some trepidation, I took my first bite. It was perfect. The author was right, the eggs are superfluous, and I thoroughly regret the months I spent living in fear of eggless french toast!
November 26th is National Cake Day! A few weeks ago I stumbled upon the Happy Herbivore recipe for Chocolate Mug Cake. Knowing that I would be short on time today, I figured a cake recipe that takes two minutes to put together and three minutes to cook in the microwave was exactly what I needed. Tonight Samantha and I made two of these cup creations. I’ll admit that upon first (piping hot just-out-the-microwave) bite neither of us were quite sure this mug cake was going to cut it, but we persevered and subsequent bites proved to be delicious. Incredibly rich, but delicious. I wish I’d thought to cut the cake in half before taking the photo as it definitely looked more like cake on the inside, but oh well. Easily thrown together and made of ingredients I generally have stocked in the cupboard, I’ll definitely be keeping this recipe handy for nights when I need a quick chocolate fix!
November 14th is National Guacamole Day! It’s also my last day living in the Marin Headlands and thus moving day. Avoiding packing at all costs, I threw together this tasty guacamole with the help of my housemates. The usual suspects are all there (avocado, tomato, red onion, lime juice, salt, and pepper) plus some cumin and cayenne pepper to add a bit of kick. The guacamole is delicious, and I intend to devour it very slowly… as eating is so much more fun than packing.
And the award for Most Bizarre National Food Holiday goes to: November 12th, National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day! I’d love to meet the person who sat down and decided that on November 12th of each year we would celebrate pizza with everything on it… everything except anchovies. I’m not complaining, today’s food holiday had me back for seconds… and thirds. You just can’t go wrong mixing garlic, mushrooms, black olives, red onion, bell pepper, artichoke hearts, and (vegan) Italian sausage! With all that veggie goodness going on, you barely have time to notice that vegan ‘mozzarella’ tastes just about nothing like the real thing! 😉
November 5th is National Doughnut Day! Have you ever had a Whole Foods doughnut? They’re vegan, and delicious. In preparation for this food holiday the deep-fried doughnut versus baked doughnut debate was fierce around here, so I called our local Whole Foods and asked them if they fry or bake theirs. They said they bake them, so I bought a doughnut pan and that was that. Needing a few things I went into Whole Foods today and thought I’d test my luck and see if they’d give me their recipe. They apologized and said they didn’t have the recipe as the doughnuts are not made on site… but I need not worry as ‘they’re just like real doughnuts.. deep-fried and everything!’ Oh well! Bake them I did, and they were delicious. The maple glaze I tried to make didn’t exactly solidify the way I wanted it to, but honestly, in a house full of hungry roommates- that glaze didn’t even have a chance.
October 29th is National Oatmeal Day! A few weeks ago my housemate Lara introduced me to the glorious world of ‘salty oatmeal.’ I’d never had savory oatmeal before- only sweet. Despite my slight hesitation, it was love at first bite. The variations are endless, but tonight I made oatmeal and topped it with avocado, grilled onion and tomato, salt, pepper, and some olive oil. Lara (who has the wonderful tendency of surprising me with a bowl of this savory goodness on foggy mornings here in the headlands) made an awesome version the other morning with grilled mushrooms and olive tapenade. Lesson learned: don’t knock it til you’ve tried it, this stuff is delish.
October 28th is National Chocolate Day! After college Dusty and I wanted to do something epic, so we biked from Seattle to Vancouver. We discovered quite a few things on that trip, but even more important than the discovery that ‘tents sold as being for two people are really suited for one very tiny person’ and ‘if you bike in a bright yellow rain suit, birds might decide you look tasty’, was the discovery of brownkies. Brown what?! Well, Betty Crocker calls them cookie brownie bars, but we didn’t think that name summed up the incredibleness that is brownies with chocolate chip cookies baked into them. Tragically, when I went vegan earlier this year and emptied my cupboards of all products with dairy in them, my emergency box of brownkies had to go. So tonight I decided to take on Betty and see if I could make a vegan version that tastes as good as the original thing. Well, while they definitely taste as good as the original, they weren’t exactly cooked as much as the original. I had extra cookie dough so I made more of a layer of cookie than usual. I pulled the pan out when the top started to brown, but that wasn’t exactly an indication of what was going on inside. That Betty is so tricky! I’ll have to mess around with portions and oven temp to see if I can remedy that situation for next time, but don’t expect me to go running towards the oven tonight. Undercooked brownkies?! YUM.
October 22nd is National Nut Day! You know, sometimes things work out, and sometimes.. they don’t. Unfortunately, these cookies are a pretty good example of the latter. I was so excited for this food holiday as it was an excuse to make ricciarelli, a delicious orange-laced almond paste cookie that originated in Siena. I made the dough in the morning and it chilled for four hours, then my sister and I baked the cookies in the afternoon. For some reason my egg replacer didn’t cut it for this recipe, and instead of fat oval cookies we got thin crispy blobs. Don’t get me wrong, they’re some really tasty thin crispy blobs, but they’re definitely not ricciarelli!
October 17th is National Pasta Day! Oh pasta. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who didn’t like pasta. I like pasta every which way, but today decided to make pasta salad. Mom and I had made something similar for dinner the night before my half marathon last weekend, so I had some leftover ingredients lying around. Today it was a mixture of pasta, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, sliced black olives, and some cooked broccoli and kale. Yum.
October 15th is National Mushroom Day! While volunteering at the Vervet Monkey Foundation in South Africa one of the meals that was made weekly was vegetarian shepherd’s pie. It was delish, so when this very vague national food holiday came up I decided to get a little creative and sought out a vegan lentil and mushroom shepherd’s pie recipe. The chances of getting a good picture of this one were slim to none, so while I acknowledge that it looks a bit funky, the pie tasted fantastic. I debated throwing some vegan cheese on top as that is how we ate it in South Africa, but the recipe was so full of delicious flavors that in the end I decided the cheese was unnecessary.
October 13th is National Pumpkin Festival Day! When we were sophomores in college one of my housemates came home from the holidays with some of her mom’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and my life was never the same. Mom and I whipped up a batch tonight and, thankfully, I can put all my fears aside- they’re just as good vegan as they are with eggs and butter!