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Monday, February 7, 2011

When you get 'lemons', make croutons!

I love books. Love, love, love books. My love for them started at a very young age and I credit my grandfather (and my mother---who probably got her love for reading from him also) for cultivating this life-long love of reading. Grandpa would keep a running list of which Hardy Boys books I had (no Nancy Drew for this tomboy) and would always pick up a few for me prior to coming for a visit.

Part of my habit of life-long reading is a bit of obsession with research. When I am interested in a subject, I will research it to death. The internet is a research-junkie's dream, of course, but I still love the paper and binding of a book.

So of course when making the decision to become vegan, and predominately using a whole-foods based diet with minimal oil/fat, I ravaged our library consortium for books on the subject. A couple of authors immediately stood out from the others: Robin Robertson being one, Alicia Silverstone being another, and even though both use oil/fat, I love their work. But I was also drawn to Isa Chandra Moskowitz and her incredible book: Veganomicon (co-authored with Terry Hope Romero). In researching Isa Chandra, I quickly discovered her cooking show, Post-Punk Kitchen. For more Isa Chandra click here: There is a style about Isa and individuality that is quite fascinating--this girl definitely marches to the punk beat of her own drum.

I recently bought her new cookbook: Appetite for Reduction and anxiously chose my first recipes to try from the book. I settled on her Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits and her Lotsa Veggies Lentil Veggie Soup.

I've gotten quite sloppy with my cooking in recent years, or maybe it is just reflective of my innate sense of wanting to do things MY way, but it seems like I just cannot leave a recipe alone. I followed Isa's soup recipe almost to the letter, but varied the spices a bit and also added some potatoes. That soup ended up being sooooooo good. I had it for lunch and dinner for several days and mourned the passing of the last spoonful. This will become a 'go-to' recipe for me for sure.

My sloppiness has also evolved to include a kind of 'I-don't-need-no-stinking-measuring- cups/spoons' attitude, and I jumped into Isa's biscuit recipe with that mental swagger as well. Isa also uses oil, and trying to be fat free, or oil free anyway, I subbed applesauce for the canola oil and tweaked it here and there.

Well, the results were less than stellar and I kept increasing the baking time more and more and still they wouldn't get done on the inside. I now think I had proportionately WAY too much sweet potato (now where are those measuring cups???) and the applesauce probably added more moisture as well. I will redo and attempt to give this recipe its due.

So, rather than just give this batch to the dogs, I thought...hmmm...must be something I can do with them. Voile! Croutons. So I hacked them up, stuck them on a cookie sheet and toasted them within an inch of their sweet potato lives. Here is the result.

If you look close, you can see there are still a couple of these little suckers that just refuse to die....upper left...still mushy in the center. But, most came out very crunchy and the sweetness was a nice touch....they found a happy home here, on top of Rip Esselstyn's (Engine 2 Diet) Mac not Cheese.

It remains to be seen whether I will learn my lesson here and on first attempt at a recipe, follow it more closely, and, heaven forbid, use an actual measuring device. I kinda doubt if I'll learn though, and really, I would not have discovered some very interesting croutons had I not made the 'mistake'.

Sue, winging it, in Ohio

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