Pies/Hearts/Tarts & an Interview with Dynise Balcavage

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An interview with Dynise Balcavage, aka the Urban Vegan, author of the new book: Pies and Tarts with Heart. Photos of Frozen Grasshopper Pie, Gingered-Pear Pie and Pumpkin Pie. And now, I am seriously craving pie and humming the song from Waitress… Continue reading

Autumn Inevitability: Homemade Pumpkin Coconut Coffee Creamer

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Day 22: The DIY coffeeshop fun continues with homemade pumpkin coconut creamer and cinnamon breath. Continue reading

Pumpkin! Whiffies, Lattes, Donuts, Pie & Beer

Fall’s the best.

I remain broken-hearted that I was too busy to stop by the Portland Nursery for the Apple Tasting for the first time in years and years, so I’ve been consoling myself with autumn’s other BFF: pumpkin. I don’t take a knife to its face anymore, but I will scoop out the insides to get my pie and latte on.

And everything else appropriate.

Pumpkin Soy Lattes with cinnamon and nutmeg, Rain or Shine Coffee House

Pumpkin-filled, cinnamon crunch donut, Acme Donuts

I’ve given this SE Powell donut shop a hard time in the past, but things have improved with this pumpkin pudding-filled, lemony glazed donut.  I say this lovingly, but honestly, the standards for vegan yeasted donuts aren’t that high as it is! And as someone who spent a few years in Boston, they charmed me with their new (to me, at least) slogan.

With the recent release of Terry and Isa’s latest cookbook, no one’s going to object my insistence that it’s the year of the pie, right?

Butternut Pumpkin Coconut Cream with a Bittersweet Chocolate Swirl


It’s a store-bought crust, but cut me a break – it was my third pie of the weekend, and the first two crusts were homemade. I couldn’t stop. Pies for all!

Speaking of, seasonal Whiffies remain one of my favorite things about the cart scene.

Pumpkin Creme filled Whiffies

It’s precious and deliciously fried. Like I could resist an inside shot.

The Whiffies’ Menu. Yeah, you see that asterisk.

The only thing better would be pumpkin chocolate chip. I’ll give it some time.

The following slice is from take 1 on a Heartichoke development. Next up, adding the ricotta-factor, a currant swirl and candied carrots.

Spiced Pumpkin Millet Teasecake with a Poppy Walnut Crust

In additional autumnal latte developments, two more spiced pumpkin creations from around town, one surprisingly more lovely than the other:

Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte, Peet’s Coffee and Tea

Pumpkin Spice Latte, Common Grounds Coffee House

It’s like the rest of Portland knew just how I was feeling.

Portland Farmers Market, PSU Park Blocks

In conclusion, I have tried three pumpkin beers so far this season. The first up was the Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale carried by Trader Joe’s. The verdict? Light, but weak.

Next up, Silver Moon Twisted Gourd Pumpkin Ale, from Bend.  Getting closer.

Silver Moon Twisted Gourd Pumpkin Ale; kale in the sink


Lastly, we have our winner of the season, and my heart and tastebuds, thus far…

Southern Tier’s Imperial Pumking Ale, New York

My friend Janessa shared a bottle of this rich pumpkin ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company with me a couple of weeks ago, and this is the reason I have been judging all others so harshly. It was so good I assumed it came from the Northwest!

It costs a pretty penny, around $8-9 for a 22 ounce, but hey – my neighbors, the Beermongers, had it on tap while I was there over the weekend. Now you know what to do next time you’re waiting for a table at Portobello.

Tis the Tofurkey Day MoFo: Kabocha Squash Pot Pie, Thai Iced Tea Pumpkin Pie & Dinner with Friends

I may not really celebrate the holidays, but I do celebrate proudly made from scratch dishes, friends, wine, and the warm wonder that is a multi-course, cruelty-free thanksgiving dinner with said friends in a city we’ve made our home. Aww.

Commence warm and fuzzies and vegan food with part of the spread:

My contributions to the dinner were pies of both sweet and savoury varieties. This marked the production of my first-ever pot pie, so it’s time for a photo pictorial to capture my stirring hand’s excitement.

Sautéing the diced green beans, carrots, mushrooms, potato, baked tofu, and spices.

The savoury was a Smokey Kabocha Squash & Baked Tofu Pot Pie inspired by Karen from the Vegan Conversion Challenge’s recent Kabocha Pot Pie. She’s doing a month of chili-dominated dishes for VeganMoFo, and as soon as I saw her adorable baked-in-the-squash, smokey pot pies, I wanted to try them. Fatefully tying this plan together, I had roasted freaking kabocha squash the night before, so the question became – do I buy more squash (on the day before thanksgiving) or do I reach for a little more adventure? I chose the latter, following Karen’s recipe as closely as possible. There was no time for finding Soy Curls or big tvp chunks,  so I decided to bake tofu cubes in a marinade of tamari, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, garlic, and herbs. As for squash, it seems to get saucey in Karen’s, so I figured simply adding chunks of roasted squash into the mix with the broth would work for my take. A squashy gravy, if you will. I went light on the chili peppers, and ended up adding quite a bit more of smoked paprika and hot cayenne before baking.

Things take a turn for the saucey and squashy:

Dished into a pie plate and ready for some puff pastry action.

The finished dish, with its learning-as-we-go puff pastry weave, from my camera phone:

Enough of my silly tales of pot pie production – Chelsea’s famous Gluten Roast, stuffing & itty bitty, adorable potatoes follows:

Knowing this would be there just may have pushed me out of the house.

Damn good pumpkin pie and damn fine pecan pie:

My friend veganized John Edwards’ secret family recipe for us and I’m still thinking about it:

Sweet, sweet pumpkin cheesecake!!

My second contribution – half of a vision come to life – Thai Iced Tea Pumpkin Pie.

Take Bryanna’s classic Vegan Pumpkin Pie, sub coconut milk for the soy, and add a ton of powdered cardamom and star anise along with the usual suspects. If there was Thai tea in my cabinets, it would have been involved.  And one excuse short of my vision, I had just missed the stores closing on my way to dinner, or there would have been coconut flakes (or, in retrospect, dollops of coconut whipped cream) with the straws.

Note: I did not make people drink out of them.

The Great Pumpkin Syrup Sunday

Oh, Fall

I picked up a sugar pie pumpkin from the coop yesterday with two goals. Today, I’ll open up about the first: Pumpkin Syrup.

I’m one to seek out a vegan-friendly pumpkin latte or two, or milkshake, during my favorite season, and one to wonder, “Where aren’t there more classy pumpkin cocktails?”

Pumpkin, seasonal spices and brandy (or bourbon, or just  insert your mocktail design here) just make sense.  With this in mind, and eye-rolling over the multiple recipes for pumpkin syrups and sauces online that simply involved pureeing canned pumpkin with maple syrup and heating it, the following happened in my kitchen…

Pumpkin Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted pumpkin*
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick (you’ll be removing this after cooking)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Combine everything, except for the maple, in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook for 30 minutes. Gently stir, occasionally.
  3. Stir in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.
  4. Carefully remove the cinnamon stick. Even more carefully, transfer to a blender, and puree until smooth. Be sure to let it cool, somewhat, or let the blender breathe so you don’t have an autumn explosion on your hands.
  5. Transfer to a bottle or jar, and refrigerate in between use.

Use this sauce to sweeten your tea, incorporate into cocktails, bribe your friends for favors in the 10th and 11th months of the year, and smuggle into local coffeeshops.

Notes, etc: I purposely made this syrup light. Again, I didn’t want a heavy pumpkin puree or a syrup I needed to constantly shake.  Nor, did I want a heavily spiced syrup. If you want something thicker, use more pumpkin. Like it spicy? Add more spices, and consider adding freshly grated ginger.

*I didn’t want to use raw or soft pumpkin, so I roasted it for 20 minutes at 400F, and let cool before use. I can’t break down all the scientific sense as to why this made more sense to me, it just did.

Success!

Pumpkin Tempeh Chili with Roasted Smoky Seeds & Pumpkin Apple Brandy Sipper

see this shot?

pumpkin. coconut. whiskey. nog.

Pumpkin Coconut Nug

Well, fast forward to Monday, and I don’t plan on placing glasses of cinnamon sprinkled nog in poor light, half hidden by shadows.

Earlier today, I bought a magical new camera from The Shutterbug!

I spent this past week cooking and dining without a camera and it didn’t feel right. I had been planning to upgrade for a while now, and suddenly, I had no choice.  My overused, abused, but deeply loved, Canon Powershot SD750 saw its last day during my first visit to the brand new, novelty-licious Slappycakes in Portland, waiting for light yet whole grain pancakes to cook. I am devastated I don’t have shots of the griddle on the table or my friend Emily’s penis pancake….yet! I’ll just have to go with a group of newbies and see their patient delight grow.

p.s. The drink is made with organic canned pumpkin, So Delicious Original Coconut Beverage (love, love), cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, whiskey, vanilla extract and soymilk, pureed in a Vita-Mix.  I brought a pitcher to a fall party a few weeks ago. Next time, a little less whiskey!