Back in my corned fauxsage hash post, I mentioned that, since I made my own seitan, the hash was made-from-scratchier than most omni hash-from-scratch. Now I present to you an EVEN MORE MADE-FROM-SCRATCHIER evening of home cooking.

My religion and pop culture class has been talking recently about Carolina barbecue as a religious ritual. If you’ve never been through the American South, you might not be familiar with a “pig pickin.” Basically, men roast a whole pig in a pit, shred it up, drench it with vinegary mustard-based Carolina barbecue sauce, and serve it to a crowd. I was inspired by all this talk of barbecue to recreate the classic Carolina barbecue sandwich without the cruelty–and I made every component with my own hands, in my own kitchen, in one afternoon.

First up, I made seitan. I actually made two batches in two different flavors, but the basic recipe for both of them was adapted from the pumpkin fauxsage I made last week. I made one chicken-flavor loaf and one beef-flavor loaf. Now, Carolina barbecue is made with pork. I am not equipped to make pork-flavored seitan, so I made do with “beef.”

On the left is beef-flavor seitan mix with sage, dehydrated onion, granulated garlic, paprika, chili powder, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and cayenne. On the right is chicken-flavor seitan mix with dehydrated onion, turmeric, crushed rosemary, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. This is possibly the only use I will ever find for my tin of Old Bay. I used “beef style” and “chicken style” meatless soup mixes to make the broth for the liquid portion. I replaced the pumpkin in the recipe with an equal measure of pureed great northern beans.



And the finished products. In the first picture, the top loaf is chicken-flavor and the bottom is beef-flavor. In the sliced picture, the darker left-hand slice is “beef,” and the right-hand slice is “chicken.” In the interests of science, these slices were fried in a bit of oil and eaten straight.

While the seitan was in the oven, I got started on making buns. I used this recipe from Vegweb, and made it with half unbleached all-purpose and half white whole wheat flour. Making bread is fun–my mom used to bake her own bread all the time and enlisted her children as baker’s apprentices–but damn my hands get tired from kneading. I’ve found that it goes faster if I watch TV while I work.


Rising on top of the stove…


…and the finished product. These came out very soft and and a little bit sweet, and I quickly scarfed down a small roll spread with Smart Balance and jam. Delightful! While the rolls were in the oven, I got started on the most important component of dinner:  Carolina-style barbecue sauce.


If you’re not from the South, you probably think of the thick, smoky tomato-and-molasses based stuff as barbecue sauce. While a Memphis-style sauce is very tasty and I like to keep it around, I have developed quite a taste for sweet bright yellow Carolina-style sauce, which is made with mustard and vinegar. There are a lot of different recipes–most of them different only in their proportions–but mine is based around a 2:1 ratio of prepared yellow mustard and apple cider vinegar. To that, I add white sugar, brown sugar, cracked black pepper, and cayenne and simmer it for half an hour. [EDIT: I’ve put my sauce recipe in the comments, but there are literally soooooo many Carolina sauce recipes available on the internet that if mine doesn’t fit what’s in your pantry, there is definitely one out there that will]

I cut up some potatoes and roasted them in the oven exactly the way I roasted the vegetables for the borscht. While the potatoes were roasting, I shredded up a chunk of the beef-flavor seitan and let it crisp up with just a tiny bit of oil in a pan. I let them “burn” a little bit on one side to get some of the smoke flavor that barbecue has. To the pan of seitan, I added several spoonfuls of the sauce and stirred it until everything was evenly coated. Then all I had to do was pile it on a freshly-baked bun with plenty of extra sauce and dig in!


If I were doing this properly I would have made sweet tea, but I didn’t think about it in time, so I have a glass of orange juice instead. Also, if this were a pig pickin’, there would be coleslaw, but unfortunately I didn’t have any cabbage. Extra sauce in the cup for dipping the potato wedges.

And now I am sitting on my bed feeling completely exhausted and sipping a cup of apricot tea. Was all the made-from-scratching worth it? Yes, but not every day. Besides, now I have a whole batch of sandwich rolls, loaves of seitan, and a container of barbecue sauce which will keep me from putting forth too much effort for future meals.

I love other people’s kitchens. When I go over to friends’ houses, I never ask where the cups are if I want a drink–I just open cabinets until I find them, since this allows me to see what’s inside. Fridges are glorious, pantries intriguing. I know one fellow who, when he allowed me to explore his refrigerator in early 2009, learned that he had a container of bean dip which had expired in 2005.

Since the beginning of Mo Fo, I’ve been kicking around the idea of a photographic tour of my kitchen for the other kitchen voyeurs. While I was waiting for my beets to cook through yesterday, I grabbed my camera and documented the contents of my cupboards.

The top shelf of my fridge, with leftover soup, salad greens, condiments, red grapes, and a package of premade mashed potatoes (it belongs to my roommate).


The lower shelves. On the middle shelf are the last of the green cherry tomatoes, foil-wrapped pumpkin fauxsage, and Gimme Lean “beef” and “sausage.” On the bottom shelf are dill relish, Irish whiskey marmalade, three-berry preserves, roasted red jalapenos, green jalapenos, Smart Balance, and leftover Chinese food.


The fridge door. On the bottom shelf are soymilk, lemon juice, vodka sauce (my roommate’s), and carrot juice. On the higher shelf are a container of apple slices, horseradish beets, and jarred tomato sauce.


Top shelf:  blueberries, raspberries, and ice. Bottom shelf:  green peas, a VERY old package of chik’n patties, and my roommate’s weird frozen “quesadilla roll” things. Z does not cook anything more complicated than frozen pizza. Later on the evening this picture was taken, I came back to the apartment to find the microwave door standing open and a plate covered with hardened melted cheese inside. Z said “I made some food and forgot to close the door,” to which I replied “Did you just stand here and eat it out of the microwave?” Yes. Yes, he did.


Frozen strawberries, lima beans, mango, and edamame. I always buy frozen lima beans and then realize that I have no idea what to do with them. If anyone has any ideas of lima beans, let me know. Also, I hate mango, but for some reason I don’t mind small quantities of it in smoothies.


We are now entering the realm of dry goods. Top shelf:  Karo syrup (for pecan pie, I’ve never used it in anything else), stone-ground yellow grits, corn starch, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar. Bottom shelf:  cornmeal, seasoned cornmeal, rotini, spinach udon (the green package), whole wheat spaghetti, rice vermicelli, my roommate’s sesame seed buns, jasmine tea. The rice vermicelli moved with me from my old apartment and I’m just too nervous to cook anything with it. Rice noodles never turn out right for me. Behind the cornmeal there’s a brown lid peeking out–it’s a container of brown rice.


This is a game I like to call “Tea Tetris.” Here we have, beginning with the leftmost column:  ginger, vanilla chai; Lipton black tea (for making iced tea), chai rooibos, cinnamon apple; Zhena’s Gypsy raspberry Earl Gray; vanilla rooibos, apricot vanilla white tea, and English Breakfast. I like having options in the morning. The tin at the front is instant coffee.


Grains! Top shelf, starting on the left:  lentils, kasha, barley, and quinoa. Lower shelf:  turbinado sugar, popcorn, steel cut oats, couscous, rolled oats, and yellow grits.


And my favorite part of the tour, the corner where I keep my baking supplies. Left to right:  vital wheat gluten, giant blue bag of Israeli couscous, vegan sugar, King Arthur white whole wheat flour, nutritional yeast (on top of the King Arthur), unbleached AP flour, Red Star yeast (on top of the AP). In the front are my little mortar and pestle, which right now are holding kosher salt after I accidentally poured way too much from the container into my hand.


…and the last stop, my drawer of beans and soup fixings. Red lentils, black beans, fifteen bean assortment, kosher onion soup mix, vegetable boullion cubes, and (peeking out from under the boullion) a foil packet of miso paste. This is my favorite drawer, because as Friendboy said to me one evening, I am a soupaholic. I wish it would get properly cold here so that I could eat soup every day.

That’s my kitchen, show off yours!

I am a Russian studies minor, and a former officer of my college’s Russian club. As such, I have had considerable exposure to Russian cooking, including borscht, which is usually made with a meat broth. Since the only must-have ingredient in borscht is beets, it is incredibly easy to make vegan. Tonight I made it with organic local beets, onion, several cloves of organic garlic, two carrots, horseradish, broth, and paprika (which is a bit of a Hungarian touch, I think it’s not a traditional borscht ingredient). I also roasted some potatoes and turnips, which I ate as a topping on the soup.

Naked beets waiting to be diced up. I peel my beets before I cook them, I find it less messy and painful than trying to skin cooked beets. They ooze less when they’re raw.


My jar of horseradish and beet juice. I blame my Russian professor for my addiction to this stuff.


Beets, carrots, garlic, onion, and horseradish simmering away in broth.

Potatoes and turnips roasted in olive oil with kosher salt and crushed pepper. They may not look like much, but these are amazing. The exterior gets very crisp while the inside is so soft and tender that it practically melts when bitten into. I think this is due to high heat–I roast potatoes at 475 for half an hour.

Plated and ready to eat. I pureed the borscht and let it cool to room temperature, then topped it with the roasted potatoes and turnips.

UPDATE:  I don’t have any pictures because I got to the potluck and realized that my camera was still on my kitchen counter. ARGH. This also means that I have no pictures whatsoever of the cupcakes, soup, or tomato relish because for some reason, I didn’t take any shots of them in my kitchen before I left. So this is a tragically photo-less post. I will make it up to you later. With, umm, whatever I cook tonight. And I’m not sure what that will be, because I don’t have anything planned. Bear with me.

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No pictures for this yet, I’ll add them after the potluck, because I want pictures of all the other delicious veg foods, too.

So my friend and former roommate, S, is turning 23 and his roommates are throwing a party themed around colonialism. It’s a potluck, and the guests are kindly requested to bring veg dishes which we would not have been able to make if it weren’t for the long history of European colonialism. Yes, they’re kooky kids, but I love them all dearly and S really is abnormally fascinated with colonialism.

I’ve made two dishes:  peanut butter cupcakes with bitter chocolate ganache, and black bean soup with spicy green tomato relish. The peanut butter cupcakes are the ones from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, with a couple of very small changes–dark brown sugar instead of molasses, banana instead of flax as the egg replacer, and the addition of pumpkin pie spice. I’ll add pictures later, but here are the recipes for the bitter chocolate ganache and the spicy green tomato relish. They’re both too simple.

BITTER CHOCOLATE GANACHE
1 cup vegan bittersweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons spiced rum
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

Melt the chocolate chips and rum together in a double boiler. When they have formed a sauce, stir in the peanut butter until thoroughly combined. Makes enough to top twelve cupcakes.

SPICY GREEN TOMATO RELISH
10 oz green tomato, chopped into large pieces
1/4 cup pickled green jalapenos
1 green onion stalk, chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
apple cider vinegar

Place first five ingredients in a container with a lid. Add enough apple cider vinegar to cover, and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to make your relish, drain the vinegar and place all the solids in a food processor. Whiz it about until everything has been diced into uniform small pieces. Can be served with chips or any Mexican food–I’m putting it on top of black bean soup.

PARTY RECAP
The potluck was fun, and the food was delicious. Also on the table:  sticky rice, pumpkin pudding, fried spring rolls, a green salad with avocado and pepitas, burritos, tortilla chips, corn salsa, and straight gin. The cupcakes and relish were both big hits, and someone asked me for the tomato relish recipe for inclusion in a vegan cooking zine that is coming together in the area. After the feasting was over, we cleared out the kitchen and my other former roommate, T, set up his turntables and crates of 45s and DJ’d a set. I walk-of-shame’d my way back home at 7am. Moral of the story:  vegans party really hard.

I’ve had better days than today. I planned to make black bean soup, but I didn’t have the drive or the energy to do anything more complex than lay in my bed, drinking orange juice and watching The Office. Eventually I got around to frying up some pumpkin fauxsage and eating it as a sandwich on a vegan rosemary bagel with Tofutti cream cheese and hot sauce. I also put together a jar of green tomato fridge pickles for my friend’s birthday party tomorrow. But nothing, you know… photogenic. Blog worthy. So in the interest of keeping the MoFo momentum going, I present a small handful of dishes involving pumpkin which have caught my eye in the Veganmofo world over the past few days.

Breakfast seems like a good place to start, don’t you think? While I’ve made two types of pumpkin muffins in the past couple of weeks, Trinity at haiku tofu branched out in the baked goods world to make Pumpkin Cinnamon Scones.

The young lady at bakery manis has a charming Little Pumpkin That Could from her garden, which she plans to eat in a simple fashion.

Vegetabull is working through a massive quantity of pumpkin puree and featured pumpkin bread on Day 3 of the MoFo, but in the interest of including something savory I chose her other pumpkin dish for inclusion in the mini round-up: Pumpkin and Chanterelle Soup, which she adapted from a recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook. I love pumpkin soup, but I always make it straight—pumpkin, broth, coconut milk, onions, pureed until smooth. I’ve never even considered adding anything in a co-starring role with the pumpkin, but this soup looks and sounds amazing.

Also in the savory category, there is a mouthwatering Thai Green Coconut Pumpkin Curry at Beans and Greens, from a recipe in the Millenium Cookbook (linked from her entry).

My friend is having a birthday party veg potluck tomorrow themed around “foods we wouldn’t have without colonialism,” so I promise that tomorrow’s entry will be more stimulating than today’s. There will be cupcakes.

I love Sunday breakfast. For many people, Sunday breakfast is when the whole family sleeps late and then tucks into a traditional spread together. Or they go out to brunch after church. Or they host their own brunch for their friends with pitchers of mimosas. I eat Sunday breakfast alone. Friendboy is out of town today, but even when he’s here he sleeps until the middle of the afternoon on the weekends.

Yesterday I made pumpkin fauxsage using the recipe at Have Cake Will Travel, and then realized that I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with a massive one pound log of fauxsage. This morning I decided to recreate a dish that I loved as a child:  corned beef hash. If you’re thinking of the mush that comes in cans from Hormel, that’s not what I’m talking about. That stuff is just one processing step away from being dog food. I’m talking about made from scratch, and I feel somewhat pleased that, having made my own “meat,” my hash is made-from-scratch-ier than any omni hash that isn’t cooked up by a cowboy.

I cut up some red potatoes into tiny cubes and boiled them in salted water until just tender, then drained them and set them aside. I reserved about three tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Then I diced the pumpkin fauxsage, a portobello mushroom cap, and two giant cloves of garlic. I melted some Smart Balance Light in my large frying pan and added a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil to keep the Smart Balance from burning off. I sauteed the garlic just until I could smell it, and then added the fauxsage and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt. When the fauxsage started to look nicely browned on one side, I added the diced mushroom and stirred until they softened. I turned down the heat, pushed all the fauxsage and mushrooms to one half of the pan, and added the potatoes to the other half with a couple more pats of Smart Balance. I cracked black and red pepper over everything, stirring the potatoes in their half of the pan until they were coated with Smart Balance and spices. I then stirred everything back together and let it sit, coming back every two or three minutes to stir things around. When the potatoes started to look “fried,” I poured the reserved tablespoons of cooking liquid over the hash and let it sit over low heat until the liquid had absorbed and the fauxsage had begun to dry out again.

During the last stage of cooking the hash, I whipped together some waffle batter. I usually make waffles with Ener-G egg replacer, but I’m out, so I took a bit of a gamble and stirred in some applesauce in the place of an egg. The applesauce sub works fine in muffins and quick breads, but I didn’t know how it would work out in waffles. Verdict:  absolutely fine, they didn’t taste much different from the waffles I make with Ener-G. My waffle iron smoked a little more than usual, but the waffles themselves were not burnt. I regret not taking a picture of the waffle iron. It’s a battered old warhorse and is older than I am–my mother passed it down to me when she got a new, prettier model. My waffle iron has no safety features to speak of, the internal cooking surface is cast iron, and it weighs a ton. I hope it never stops working, I love it.

My waffles covered in three-berry preserves, surrounded by a moat of fauxsage hash. The waffles were good, but I am ADDICTED to the hash. Between this plate and all of the “tasting” I did, I ate half the pan by myself. It’s salty, starchy, and delicious–just like hash should be.

It’s true. Like many of you, I grew up in an omnivorous family. I became a vegetarian at age twelve, and after that my awareness of what meaty tidbits my family ate on a regular basis becomes a little dim. What I’m getting at is this:  I don’t know what omnivores eat on the nights when they’re tired and it’s late and they haven’t planned anything and they need to clear some things out of the fridge, but I do know what vegans eat in this situation. Stir fry. A concoction that often features Eastern flavor components like ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil, the contents of stir fry are often based entirely on what is at hand and have only the most nebulous relation to anything found in Asian cuisine. The abuses that we, as a group, have committed against the concept of “Japanese food” in the name of using up some fast-fading vegetables are numerous and surprisingly tasty.

There are times when a stir fry is planned in advance and executed brilliantly, and then there are stories like tonight’s. I fell asleep, and woke up at 8pm both hungry and unwilling to put forth hard work. “Stir fry!” I said to myself, thinking of half a packet of carrot udon noodles in the cupboard. I rummaged around in the fridge to see what lucky vegetables would be included.

Looks like tonight’s winners are some impulsively purchased green beans, the last quarter of an onion, a portobello mushroom cap (I feel like this is not an Asian mushroom), and a stalk of green onion. Unbidden, my mother’s voice comes to my mind:  “What about protein?” But then out of the freezer, like a bat, flies a bag of frozen edamame. Veggies, carbs, protein–this is beginning to look like a perfectly healthy meal. There is a hitch. I am completely out of both soy sauce and sesame oil, which as far as I am concerned come standard in stir fry. It’s too late, I’ll have to make do with crushed red pepper, cayenne, garlic, powdered ginger, and powdered onion soup mix. I fry everything up in vegetable oil, which does the job just fine even though it lacks the savory kick of sesame oil.

On the side I have a pile of “fridge pickles,” which are just slices of cucumber, radish, and green onion which have been marinating in vinegar and salt in the fridge. Don’t be fooled by their simplicity, they are a sign from the gods that we, the people of Earth, are loved.

I spent the whole afternoon cooking, although none of it showed up in my dinner. I tried to make oatmeal bread in my bread machine, which became a long and chaotic story and ended with finishing the loaf in the oven. It is quite edible but very unattractive, so I doubt that I will ever post a picture of the actual loaf. Simultaneously, I made the pumpkin fauxsage from Have Cake Will Travel using the pumpkin leftover from Thursday’s pumpkin muffins. I made one giant log of fauxsage, but in retrospect I should have broken it up into smaller links. It is tasty, but enormous and a little more spongy than I would have liked. The fauxsage will be featured in more detail during breakfast tomorrow, but I’d like to close with something that will probably not show up on any other blog during Veganmofo.

That is a slice of homemade oatmeal bread topped with a layer of Tofutti “cream cheese,” a piece of fried and salted pumpkin fauxsage, and horseradish preserved in beet juice. Sometimes my tastebuds channel Eastern Europe in very strange ways.

I live one block from the Saturday farmer’s market. There are weekends (plenty of them) when I sleep until two in the afternoon and miss the whole thing completely, which is shameful. But this morning I was wide awake and I went down to take my pick of fresh, local fruits and veggies. I brought my camera (I even went back to my apartment to get it) and then discovered while standing in front of a stall full of adorable, bright flying saucer squash that I had LEFT MY MEMORY CARD IN MY LAPTOP. I was peevish, but oh well. I’ll be back next weekend, and until then there are pictures of this week’s haul.

All this for $23, all of it grown locally on small farms and co-ops. Clockwise from the lemonade: 
-fresh squeezed lemonade (no, really, they juice the lemons right there at the stall)
-heirloom “black” cherry tomatoes
-organic butternut squash
-red potatoes
-cucumber
-organic Japanese turnips with their greens attached
-organic portobello mushrooms (the most expensive item by weight at $8/lb, but it takes quite a few mushrooms to make a pound, so it’s not so bad)
-organic beets (for my borscht later this week, I’m excited!)
-green onions
-jumbo head of organic garlic
-red onion

The squash and the turnips came from Rita’s Roots, a “transitioning-to-organic” farm on nearby Wadmalaw Island. In addition to their stand at the Farmer’s Market, they also run spring and fall CSA programs. On the weekends when I do make it to the Market, I make a beeline for Rita’s (even before I get the OMFG delicious jumbo cup of lemonade). It’s always kind of a surprise–they seem to be pretty strictly seasonal, so I can’t necessarily count on seeing the same thing two weeks in a row, but there’s generally a selection of greens and root vegetables, although this week was very heavy on the squash. Rita Bachmann runs the stand and is always polite, helpful, and smiling.

There’s a raw vegan restaurant and juice bar in Charleston called The Sprout. It’s been around for a good two years, but this year they have a stand at the Farmer’s Market, serving up raw vegan lunches on the go. I didn’t get anything this week, but it was heartening to see them there (seriously, this is South Carolina we’re talking about) and I’ll probably be back for a smoothie or a sandwich next weekend. The menu board this week advertised mock tuna salad, cashew cheese, sunflower seed “burgers,” and raw pad thai in addition to six or eight different varieties of smoothies.

I am NOT usually up this early on a Saturday (it’s noon), but I feel surprisingly refreshed and ready to tackle my bread machine this afternoon.

Not an exciting entry for me today in the Veganmofo world.

I had planned to make oatmeal bread in my bread machine today, but I didn’t get around to it. Midterm exams are next week and today was a whirl of class reviews and the handing out of assignments. I had a pumpkin muffin and coffee for breakfast followed by no lunch, so I made an early and simple dinner.

On the Vegan Lunchbox blog, Jennifer McCann made a pasta dish for her son several times featuring rotini, lima beans, and rosemary, which always sounded delicious to me, and I paid tribute to it tonight since all of those ingredients were in my fridge. Friendboy and I had rotini with lima beans, rosemary, grape tomatoes, and olive oil alongside brussels sprouts and red onions marinated in horseradish. The pasta was tasty, but the real point of the meal for me were the sprouts. This is my absolute favorite way to eat my favorite vegetable.

 

Brussels Sprouts with Horseradish
1/2 lb of brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/4 of a large red onion, sliced
1 TBSP shredded horseradish (I use horseradish in beet juice, which gives it a lovely purple color)
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup or so apple cider vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
slightly more than 1 tsp crushed red pepper
slightly more than 1 tsp garlic powder
cracked black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive bowl, with enough vinegar to cover the sprouts at least halfway. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring periodically to make sure sprouts are coated evenly. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Drain the sprouts and onions, reserving the marinating liquid. Add sprouts to the pan with a tablespoon or so of the marinade. When this has reduced, add another tablespoon. Repeat for three or four tablespoons. Serve hot.

On Facebook, I referred to today’s baking spree as “Muffinocalypse 09.” I woke up this morning and decided that the way to kick off Veganmofo was muffins. I had promised Friendboy more muffins earlier this week, and had specifically promised pear-butterscotch and apple-pumpkin, and that’s what I delivered.

The first batch was pear-butterscotch, using the accidentally vegan butterscotch morsels sold at Food Lion, previously featured in my chocolate-butterscotch chip cookies. I used a basic non-vegan apple muffin recipe as a jumping off point, but I feel totally comfortable calling this “my” recipe, because the only things the final recipe had in common with the original were flour and sugar.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup vegan white cane sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup plain soymilk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
¼ cup vegan margarine, melted
1 pear
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup pear puree
1 ½ cups of vegan butterscotch chips, divided (1 and ½)
1 TBSP spiced rum

PEAR PUREE
1 15-oz can of halved pears in juice
1 TBSP vegan white sugar

Peel and chop your pear. Put in a covered bowl with 1 tsp lemon juice to prevent browning and stick it in the fridge. Make your pear puree—break up the pear halves in a 15-oz can of pears and place them in your food processor or blender, along with about 2 TBSP of the juice from the can and 1 TBSP white sugar. Process until relatively smooth—a few lumps are fine. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl. In a medium-size bowl, mix together the white sugar, brown sugar, and vegan margarine. Add ¼ cup of the pear puree and mix, then stir in the 1 cup of soymilk. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring as you do to combine. If the batter seems too dry or sticky, add another tablespoon or so of the pear puree. Fold in the chopped pears and ½ cup of butterscotch chips. Cover the batter and set it aside, it’s time to make butterscotch sauce.

Now is a good time to start preheating your oven to 400 degrees. On your stovetop, rig up a double boiler—if you don’t know, it’s a saucepan of water topped with either a metal bowl or another saucepan with ingredients in it. Bring the bottom saucepan to a boil, and put 1 cup of butterscotch chips and 1 TBSP of spiced rum in the top saucepan. I strongly recommend a nonstick saucepan on top. Stir the contents of the top saucepan continuously until the butterscotch chips have melted down completely into a sauce. Add this sauce to the muffin batter and stir once or twice, just enough to swirl the sauce through.

Spoon your batter into your muffin tin—should make twelve regulation-size muffins. Bake for twenty minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out “clean”—for our purposes, this means without uncooked batter, because there WILL be melted butterscotch on the toothpick. As tempting as these might be to eat right out of the oven, let them cool before removing from the muffin tins, as the butterscotch becomes extremely hot.

The second batch of muffins essentially followed this recipe from Diabetic Living, with the following changes: 1 ripe mashed banana in place of the two eggs, vegan buttermilk (soymilk + lemon juice) in place of the buttermilk, 1/2 cup of brown sugar instead of 1/4 cup, and 3 tablespoons of rolled oats instead of 3 tablespoons of wheat germ. I had no wheat germ in the house.

As you might expect from only 1/3 cup of applesauce, these muffins aren’t very apple-y. Next time I would definitely add some peeled, chopped apples to the mix to up the apple factor. But with only 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/2 cup of sugar, these are pretty healthy muffins. And I can be honest with myself: the main ingredient in the other muffins is essentially candy. The pumpkin muffins are not dessert masquerading as breakfast.

After so much muffin-tasting, my stomach sort of hurt, so I went super-simple for dinner. Vegetable soup with diced tomatoes, great northern beans, green peas, carrots, garlic, a Telva vegetable broth cube, crushed red pepper, and cracked black pepper. And the most important bit for an irritated tummy:  saltines.

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