Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Vegan Poetry

A New Year
It's the second day of my New Year. What's the big deal about a birthday anyway? I make resolutions. I get phone calls of well wishes and make special plans. I celebrate and ponder and fret. I’m still in the ‘zone’, birthday plans running through the weekend. Is an extended celebration beneficial? You bet.

One Three called me out the back door this morning to see the "Fiesta". She had broken a couple of confetti eggs on the back step, all the primary colored paper dots and egg shell pieces instigating a little dance between us. Then we marvelled at our row of sunflowers. Two fiestas. The spontaneity of a 4 year old is good thing to add to the resolutions list.

I’ve been working on the idea of A Portable Vegan Breakfast. A recollection of a scouting snack came to mind; celery and peanut butter. Two long stalks of celery stuffed with peanut butter, a cup of coffee and an apple. Out the door I went.

The first bite of celery
Gave forth an audible crunch
And released a fresh spray of juices
That mixed with the peanut butter paste
That could have been sticking to the
Roof of my mouth.

A jaw exercise
A path to memories lost
A refreshing, invigorating
Soulful journey
Nourishing my mind and body

Then a sip of hot black coffee
Now, what is this?
Peanut butter and coffee
Like a candy
A treat, a surprise.
Good Morning indeed.

Finish with an Apple.
First bite repeats the crunch
And the spray of celery
But the flavor is new
Resetting the palette
Finding another memory.
A breakfast meditation.

There. Chop up a paragraph, put a capital letter at the beginning of each line and call it a poem. I had a hard time thinking about my day, my life, my next year while I was busy with the chewing and the juices and the driving at the same time. Therapy. Food therapy. Is there such a thing? I think so.

Errands. Work. Chores. No time for snacking. No need either. My breakfast held the blood sugar steady.

The Pleasant Peasant
Lunch was soup. Water and a potato, a stalk of celery, a carrot, 3 cloves of garlic, a little cauliflower, a tomato picked fresh off the vine, garden herbs (sweet marjoram, basil, thyme), a dash of tumeric, a dash of salt and pepper, a little oregano. I was going for a chicken soup flavor without the chicken. I didn’t have an onion. So I threw in some onion salt. Vegetable soup. No beans this time. Along with a green salad, it was satisfying.

Carol Fenster, Ph.D. (impressed?) wrote “Cooking Free” for people like me with food sensitivities. Get out your wallet. We are going to the Health Food Store to buy what people with a gluten allergy use to make bread. Brown rice flour, not bad; tapioca flour, ok; almond flour, through the roof; xanthan gum, break the bank. But we’re making pizza and it’s worth it.

Pizza Mix - Bulk
Makes four 12 inch pizza crusts. Each pizza curst serves 6. (Or 3. Really. Serves 3. We’ve been working in the garden, swimming, hiking, thinking. We need some calories here.)

2 2/3 cups brown rice flour
2 cups tapioca flour
½ cup almond flour
4 teaspoons xanthan gum
4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
That wouldn’t be vegan so I substituted with ground flaxseed
4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
What’s that? I made my own – note below
2 teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container and store in dark, dry place.

To make one 12 inch pizza:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease 12 inch pizza pan.

The Dough:
1 1/3 cups dry mixture in medium bowl.
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water (110 degrees F)
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Mix with electric mixer using regular beaters, on high speed for 3 minutes. Dough will resemble soft bread dough. (very soft and sticky) If dough is too stiff, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. (I had the opposite problem and added the flour mixture 1 tablespoon at a time.)

Put mixture on prepared pan. Liberally sprinkle rice flour on dough, then press dough into pan, continuing to sprinkle dough with flour to prevent sticking to your hands. (There is the clue, that flour sprinkling is very necessary. This dough is not like a bread dough, it’s s-o-f-t.) Make edges thicker to hold toppings.

Bake crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
Top with sauce (I used an 8 oz can of Hunts tomato sauce with basil and garlic, preheated in a sauce pan to thicken it up a little) and other toppings of your choice.

We topped ours with mushrooms, black olives, tomato slices, and onion.
(On my non-vegan days, mozzarella would be nice).

Bake another 20-25 minutes or until top is nicely browned.

We had eaten our share of vegetables today, so we cut up a watermelon, poured the Merlo and called it Dinner.

A word about those Italian spices in the crust. Oh my. They made it pizza. But I don’t have a jar of anything called Italian Spices in my pantry so I put on my Italian persona and mixed up some thyme, basil, garlic powder, pepper, rosemary, and oregano, all dry, about ¼ - ½ teaspoon each to reach the 4 teaspoons of the recipe.

I had an Elmore Leonard thriller waiting for me. I settled into the corner of the couch and stole 2 million dollars, shot a couple of bad guys and saw my future with George Moran, the ex-Marine. Tomorrow I will leave it somewhere for someone else to read. I wrote “Read and Release” on the inside cover. The WI library did that last winter with the Jack London book they were all reading at the same time and I love the idea. I don’t need “Cat Chaser” in my bookcase, it needs to have a life of it’s own.

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