When I obsessively read through vegan blogs the one thing that catches me eye is how dietary concerns such as allergies or other diseases (celiac or even cancer) have prompted people to switch over to veganism. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but for many cutting back to “basics” and then slowly testing their boundaries is the only way in which to function with food, especially if something crops up rather suddenly. In certain discussion forums it’s clear that different things switch people over to veganism, and only later do ethical considerations become a main priority. These situations are the perfect opportunity for learning, such as looking up why some people become lactose intolerant, or have reactions to dairy, for example. The fact is that the amount of dairy consumed is simply extraordinary in many cases, and borders on excessive. Being so far removed from the production of dairy, I would argue, means that it becomes easy to consume in large quantities and in different forms (I mean, there’s milk in bread, body wash…give me a break!). One can also easily get your calcium from other sources, such as fortified soy milk, broccoli, and other greens. It’s always great to have so many resources on hand for concerned parents, nervous transitioners, and other curious creatures to show that so many vitamins, minerals and other essentials aren’t cut and dry from one source only. When growing up it’s easy to explain certain essentials to children with association to minimal sources, but with time and an inquisitive mind one can easily realize that diversity is the key when it comes to sources of calcium, protein, and other goodies to keep one healthy in brain and body.
I suspect that veganism, or the severance of reliance on animal by-products, can seem a bit daunting, but it needn’t be. When I sent my dad a few links to cake recipes, to see which he’d like for his birthday yesterday, I purposefully chose something with basic ingredients that weren’t out of his field of knowledge (no agar, nutritional yeast, xantham gum…all scary names for an omni…though hopefully not all present in a cake at the same time!). His response was that “the chocolate cake seems to be with ingredients that would make it a ‘real’ chocolate cake for us/me, mortal human being”. Sometimes I forget that it must be so revolutionary and strange for others to have someone transition so swiftly to veganism, or even the concept of veganism itself, but I’m hoping that if I indulge myself and Man-thing with “weird” treats when alone and make more “normal” but vegan goodies when visiting with others they may see it less as a monstrous denial of all yumminess in the world and rather as delicious but incidentally cruelty-free.For the cake I decided to go with Post Punk Kitchen’s chocolate cake recipe, only subbing the canola oil for applesauce and using fine whole-wheat flour. For extra decadence (since I don’t bake like this every day) I made a double layer cake, because I can! 😀 I also decided to use jam in between and on top, under a cover of melted dark chocolate, because I seriously LOVE jam cakes!
Carob prune jam layer (enough for the middle and top layer of the cake. It’s recommended that you make this the day before to minimize on stress)
- 1 & 1/4 cup pitless prunes
- 1 vanilla pod, scraped of its seeds
- enough water to cover prunes but not drown them altogether
- chai tea bag (optional)
- 2 TBSP agave syrup (optional)
- 3 TBSP carob powder
- Soak the prunes for at least an hour in hot water/chai tea
- On a medium low fat bring the prunes and vanilla seeds (with pod) to simmer until broken down, approximately 25 minutes. Stir regularly and keep and eye out. The prunes will absorb the water, so that there’s won’t be too much leftover liquid. Take off the stove and let it cool.
- Place the cooled prunes, carob powder, and the agave syrup if using in the food processor and blend til smooth.
- Using a spatula spread half on one of the cooked cakes, making sure to get some up to the edges of the cake.
- Place the second cake atop and spread the other half of the jam on top. Melt your dark chocolate in a bain marie or in the microwave and use a clean spatula to spread it across the entirety of the cake. Keep in mind the chocolate may crack when you try and cut it (as mine did), but if you don’t want to use the melted chocolate you can rather add 1/4 cup cacao to the jam to make it a solid chocolate spread in between and atop the double-layered cake.
- I also sprinkled some cinnamon at the very end on top for shiny, but you can also dazzle cacao on top if you like, or maybe even something with a bit more bite if you’re brave!
Seriously- YUM! It’s moist, delicious, sweet and oh so indulgent! This isn’t a slice that you fool around with – it is a serious business sort of cake, when you say chocolate cake and mean it. V even sent a message afterwards asking if it was vegan, because if so then she was a convert, which was rather sweet! I’ve added this to my list of go-to recipes for non-vegans because it certainly passes the secret test of “normalcy”. In the meantime I should learn to cut cake because it came out a big mess with chocolate bits flying everywhere. I didn’t mind cleaning up though 😉
I also offered to make a side dish to take with to dinner, since it’s a good way to test out what the family likes and what I can possibly feed them when we fix our dining room chairs and get to invite them over to us for a big meal. I stumbled across this uber hearty, mouth-watering patates au vin recipe from VeggieFest. Seriously. Those photos transport me to a magical spot in time and space where I can practically smell, taste and devour the dish. Because I was making it for 4.5 people (little sister counts as half because any child under 10 always carries the risk of wasting food, and little brothers under 2 are a mystery in terms of their food moods) I decided to do some modifications and add some ingredients. Turns out, this amount of food is huge and can easily feed 8 people as a side dish, if not more!
- 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 white onions, chopped
- 1 eggplant, diced
- 250g mushrooms, quartered
- 1.5 cups red wine (we used a sauvignon something…we don’t drink, ever, so we just chose the cheapest thing)
- 3 cups veggie stock (1 veg cube in boiling water for us)
- 30ml teryaki sauce
- 1 TBSP prune jam (see above)
- paprika, tumeric, pepper, basil & thyme
- 4 TBSP flour, divided in two, and 2 tsp flour
After that I followed instructions, except I don’t have a deep pan and was using double the amount of ingredients, so I first fried the potatoes in my non-stick (still with a tiny splash of oil) and then transferred everything to a bigger pot to carry on with the process.
NOTE: I used extra flour because the sauce was not thickening and I was getting extremely concerned after 20 minutes of it bubbling away. I took out a cup of the sauce from the pot and mixed in 2 TBSP of flour, whisking until it lacked lumpiness and then returned it to the pot, stirring it all in. I put the lid on and left it for 5 minutes and could even hear how it started thickening. Awesome!
Voila! Oh, and may I say: yum? I don’t usually cook this rich and wantonly, but it was a special occasion. I would recommend light sides to this dish and rather do a variety of little bites, such as a clean salad and maybe some little falafels, because even a small “side” portion of this is very filling. It’s even very tasty cold, which is how I’ve been snacking on it as it’s gone from pot to tupperware.
After all this madness and excess of food we had to take a long walk this morning, because this week has been one of uber laziness interspersed with mad baking/cooking for hours, which leaves one kaput and in no mood to traipse around. I made some more carrot-beetballs, quinoa pizza balls (subbing 1/2 a cup of quinoa for oat bran because I ran out), and tofu quiches yesterday whilst baking the cake because I so enjoyed the protein kick we had over our holiday weekend – the more protein I eat the stronger I feel (duh), but sometimes one needs it in a fanciful shape or form to truly inspire mass consumption. Not that I won’t open up a can of beans or cook up a batch of lentils without glee, but I always feel like I’m spoiling myself (and hopefully Man-thing) by making such simple but enchanting snacks or fillers.
As a side note, I’ve finally finished the last of the raw peach and beet cheesecake I made yonks ago! I kept it and ate it straight from the freezer, because I love the taste of frosty cold nuts and fruit. I’m going to make another one very, very soon, because it’s really the best type of treat to have about when you’re yearning for sweetness but don’t want to drag out chocolate or whatever. MMM!