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German

At first taking a really long break from blogging was a great idea. The pressure was gone. No more long hours trying to find the perfect angle and the perfect light for the perfect photo. No more writer’s blocks. No more obsessive recipe idea chases. No more bi-lingual entries that took forever. Yeah, that was all great. But isn’t it completely crazy? After all this is a private blog that I do to entertain myself. Trying out new recipes, taking pictures of them and then writing down everything that might be connected to this recipe, finding a little story for it, all that is fun. But then my recipe entries do not emerge in an empty space. The internet is overflowing with really great sites and there is a lot of competition. Even if I do all of this because I like it and think it is interesting, I still want people to read this blog. And I want them to try my recipes.

The weird and challenging thing about a food blog is, in my opinion, that it is written for many different people. Some people just look at the pictures, some like the texts, and only a very few come here for a recipe. Which, on the other hand, makes up most of the work. I admit, often I have asked myself if it’s worth all this work. Since Social Media things have become so fast. You work on an entry for two days, you publish it, and it’s gone after 10 hours max. But then I do ask myself why I feel this way at all. Why does it even bother me? And then I had to think of women’s magazines. Every year in April they try to convince us that we really need to start working on our bikini body. Because there’s no life without a bikini body. And that’s what Social Media is like, too, isn’t it? Well, my whole life I have lived without a bikini body. There we go!

But there we go without a blog? Nah. Over the last few months I’ve realised that there is a lot of fun to blogging. I missed it. I looked though a lot of my old recipes and pictures and I am impressed with the large interactive cookbook that I have created here. I use it a lot and and a lot more than those stacks of paper notes I used to keep. And then spring started with green asparagus and rhubarb and daylight savings time with a lot of light. And instead of spring cleaning I am restarting the blog. Then in the end coming up with new recipes, taking pictures of them and writing about them is still a lot of fun. I hope reading is, too.

Milchreis | seitanismymotor.com

Rice pudding. I used to hate it. But milchreis is a much-loved main dish in Germany. Demanded by children and grown ups all over the country. So popular that it is available at canteens and cafeterias. You usually eat it hot, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon or canned fruit like cherries. Or you eat it as a snack or dessert and you can buy ready-to-eat versions at most supermarkets.

Personally, I have never liked sweet main dishes. I need something hearty and savoury for lunch. I get really dizzy when I eat something sweet on an empty stomach. Plus, I always hated hot milk. I don’t even have to taste it. The smell alone makes me run away. I have no fond childhood memories of eating milchreis or grießpudding. In fact I have no childhood memories at all when it comes to these dishes. Thankfully, my parents never bothered serving them to us. Unfortunately, everyone around me always raved about them. Whenever a canteen would serve milchreis, I was alone queueing for the salad thinking about why everyone except me would want to eat a mushy rice dish with sugar for lunch.

Then a couple of years ago I was sitting at a Thai restaurant with a friend who ordered coconut rice. I still remember how shocked I was when she offered me some. I stammered something about hating milchreis and hot milk. When she told me that the dish was neither hot nor was there any milk in it, I still declined. But somehow she must have convinced me. And the next thing I know is that I ordered my own bowl of coconut rice.

Of course coconut rice is not the same as milchreis. But making milchreis with coconut milk made this dish into something I really enjoy eating. And it’s even better if you combine it with fresh fruit. My favourite so far has been rhubarb, because I love the combination of the rich and creamy sweet rice with something more tart. And even better if it has an edible shell, right? Also, if you care for rich and buttery flavour – this dessert has it, too. The rice you can see is a starchy short grain rice that is also called milchreis. You should be able to substitute it with any kind of short or medium grain rice you would use to make rice pudding.

Rhubarb Rice Pudding Tartelettes

Ingredients

For the rice pudding:
100 g (1/2 cup) sticky short or medium grain rice
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
For the tartelettes:
170 g (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
60 g (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) brown sugar
60 g (1/4 cup) refined coconut oil, softened
For the rhubarb topping:
200 g chopped rhubarb
50 g (1/4 cup) brown sugar

Instructions

To make the tartelette shells, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and grease 4 tartelette pans (10 cm in diametre). Set aside.

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, and coconut oil. Mix with your fingers until the oil is incorporated and the mixture has formed crumbs.

Press the dough into the pans.

Poke several times with a fork and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven but don't switch the heat off.

Remove shells from the pans once they have cooled completely.

To make the rhubarb topping line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the rhubarb on the sheet and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes and stir from time to time.

Remove from oven and let cool.

While the rhubarb is roasting, prepare the rice.

Combine rice, coconut milk, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and stir often. Cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let rest covered for another 10-15 minutes.

Once the rice is done, divide it between the shells and top with rhubarb.

Serve immediately.

http://www.seitanismymotor.com/2016/04/rhubarb-ricepudding-tartelettes-vegan/

Rhubarb Rice Pudding Tartelettes | seitanismymotor.com

I know you think I am tricking you here. This doesn’t look quick, right? But it is! So welcome to today’s edition of Vegan Mofo 2015.

paper thin and crispy flammkuchen | Vegan Mofo 2015

Tarte flambée or flammkuchen, as it is called in German is a dish popular in Alsace, France and in the South of Germany. It’s a large topped flatbread that is prepared and served similar to pizza. There are a couple of important differences though. Traditionally tarte flambée is topped with crème fraîche, onions, and some kind of ham, bacon, or lardon. (I’ll never know the correct English term for this.)  The crust has to be rolled out paper thin, you want it to be really crispy. To achieve that the dough is made without any kind of leavening. No yeast and most definitely no baking powder. It’s also baked on a very high temperature. Because of the missing yeast and a high oven temperature the tarte only has to bake for a couple of minutes. The crust itself can be prepared in advance. The dough has to rest but it doesn’t need time to rise and it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or even longer. For the topping you need very thinly sliced vegetables. Those can be prepared in advance, too. Simply place them in an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to use. For this version I used red onions, leeks, and radishes. For a more traditional flammkuchen use onions and finely cubed smoked tofu instead.

paper thin and crispy flammkuchen | Vegan Mofo 2015

Thin and Crispy Tarte Flambée

Ingredients

For the crust
250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
4 g (1 leveled teaspoon) salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened soy yoghurt
1 tablespoon oil
120 ml (1/2 cup) water
For the crème fraîche
250 g (1 cup) unsweetened soy yoghurt
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley or chives
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt or more, to taste
pepper to taste
For the topping
1 thinly sliced red onion
the white part of a thinly sliced leek
a couple of thinly sliced radishes

Instructions

To make the dough, combine flour and salt.

Add remaining ingredients and knead until the dough is firm and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Cover and let the dough rest for 30 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the crème fraîche, place all ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined.

To make the flammkuchen, place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 250°C (480°F).

Divide the dough into four equally sized pieces and place each piece on a sheet of parchment paper.

Roll out as thin as possible. Let the dough rest and relax for a minute or two from time to time, so that rolling is easier.

Thinly spread with crème fraîche and top with vegetables.

Carefully remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and slide the sheet of parchment paper with the flammkuchen on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the edges are crispy.

Repeat with the other three pieces of dough and serve immediately.

http://www.seitanismymotor.com/2015/09/thin-and-crispy-tarte-flambee/

I am so behind on blogging, it’s embarrassing. My draft folder is full. But there is something that keeps me from posting here. One and a half months ago I took up learning another language. Right now my head is spinning. I am trying to memorise personal pronouns, tense prefixes and suffixes, and weekdays. Before that I spent three weeks learning to trill the r. Which I was never able to do before, and believe me, I tried. But now, with the help of several Youtube videos (especially this and this one), I can do it most of the time if it’s surrounded by some nice vowels. I also learned to read and write. Yes, that is right. I am learning to read and write all over again. Because I left my European comfort zone by taking up an Arabic class.

I was always decent at learning languages – except for Latin, but that was because there’s no one to talk to unless you’re friends with the pope – and I guess that’s why I signed up for this new class without thinking twice. Well, it has been challenging. And slow. We learned to read, we’re practicing to write, and we’re doing tons of grammar. My small talk skills are still very lacking. But I guess I should be more patient.  I am getting a general concept of the language and that is very important and useful. It’s something you don’t feel you have at first when everything is written in letters you can’t read. When even the alphabet comes in a completely new order and with several letters you cannot pronounce. And when there’s not a single similarity to any other language you learned before. Because those languages were either related to Latin (Spanish) or Latin and German (English) or German (Norwegian).

All of this is very exiting but naturally it steals a lot of time. Time I would normally spent cooking and photographing for this blog. Instead of baking or reading other blogs,  I am now watching Arabic Youtube videos. Last Sunday, when I tried to practice for a dictation exercise, I was reminded that there was about a kilo of rhubarb in our kitchen. And  I had promised to make a cake. But what cake? My brain was toasted, I had no ideas for any kind of recipe. So I looked at my blog and decided to do a simplified version of a rhubarb pie I posted four years ago (wow!). At that time I felt bad for putting the recipe up. It was a delicious cake but it called for an uncommon ingredient: dandelion honey. Rhubarb is such a simple and humble vegetable, so why add something as fancy to the ingredient list of this pie? I probably was just super exited about my little jar of vegan honey. (To be honest, it’s not really fancy. You can make it at home, it’s made from sugar, water, and dandelion flowers.)Whatever, last Sunday I rewrote the recipe. The tart/pie is now made with the most accessible ingredients you can think of. It’s a simple recipe, with a very tender, sweet crust and  a tart filling that calls only for a hint of sugar. But there is a little twist to it. I made another batch of marshmallow fluff  for an easy and super sweet and sticky meringue topping. A perfect Sunday treat and some brain food that made learning those letters and prefixes a lot easier.

Notes: Refinded coconut oil is very common where I live. If you cannot get it and don’t mind the coconut flavour, use unrefined coconut oil instead. Margarine should work fine, too. To make the marshmallow fluff for this recipe, double the amount of sugar (100 g or 1 cup powdered sugar). You can also omit the fluff and use coconut whipped cream instead, or leave the tart naked.

rhubarb vanilla meringue tart | seitanismymotor.com

Rhubarb Vanilla Meringue Tart

Ingredients

For the rhubarb filling
750 g rhubarb, sliced into 1 cm (1/2 inch) pieces (6 cups or 1 lb and 10 oz)
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the crust
1/4 teaspoon salt
250 g flour (2 cups plus 1/2 tablespoon)
200 g (1/2 cup) sugar
110 g (1/2 cup) soft refined coconut oil, cubed
zest of one orange
For the custard
240 ml (1 cup) soy milk
30 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
For the soft meringue
1 recipe marshmallow fluff made with 100 g (1 cup) powdered sugar

Instructions

To make the filling, combine rhubarb, sugar, and cornstarch.

Let sit for about an hour and stir well from time to time.

To make the crust, mix salt, flour, and sugar in a bowl.

Add coconut oil and orange zest.

Mix with your hands and form into a crumbly dough.

Make sure the fat is incorporated well and there are no lumps of coconut oil remaining.

Grease a springform pan (26-27 cm or 10 inch) with fat.

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).

Pour the dough into the pan.

Press into the bottom and the sides of the pan. (Only line about 2.5 cm or 1 inch of the sides with dough. You just want a small border, so the filling doesn't leak.)Set aside.

For the custard, combine soy milk, cornstarch, and sugar in a small saucepan.

Whisk until the starch is dissolved and bring to a boil.

Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until thickened.

Pour over the crust.

Sprinkle rhubarb on top.

Bake for 40 minutes.

While the tart is baking, prepare the marshmallow fluff.

Transfer to a piping bag with a star tip right before the cake is done.

Pipe dollops on top of the tart, increase the temperature to 200°C (400°F) and bake for another 10 minutes, until the meringue is browned.

Let cool completely and remove from pan.

http://www.seitanismymotor.com/2015/05/rhubarb-vanilla-meringue-tart/

rhubarb vanilla meringue tart | seitanismymotor.com

This post is going to be about sausages, and food, and decisions you make as a parent. And it’s probably full of contradictions. But let’s start with something light. What did you eat this weekend? Did you eat out? Did you have takeout? Did you make a meal from scratch? On a typical weekend, I used to shop for groceries and then spent hours in the kitchen cooking. I always considered this very relaxing. It gave me time to unwind and think about stuff. But that was pre-child. These days I am lucky if I can prepare a sandwich without being interrupted. For several reasons there is not much time for quiet and long weekend cooking anymore. The main one is that we try to spend our weekends as a family. We want to go out and do stuff together. And then we get home starving and throw together whatever very quickly. Or we order a pizza. This habit has sneaked into our household since a really wonderful little pizzeria opened in our neighbourhood. They have terrific pizzas, fresh garlic oil,  and a vegan cheese option. It’s quick and it’s super convenient.

If we do cook, it is not always very relaxing. Having a three year old person running around in your kitchen can sometimes be a little bit nerve-stretching. You have to think about putting the sharp knife away. You probably don’t want to leave your child unattended next to that pot of boiling spaghetti, and so on.  And then there is always: “Mum, when is the food ready? When? I am starving! Can we eat already?” But sometimes I think I am getting the hang of it. F knows she cannot touch my knife and most of the time she doesn’t.  She wants to take part in our daily activities and she loves to help us cook. She’s taking the tasks I give her super seriously and it’s pretty cute to see her so exited about making her own food.  I won’t let her cut stuff just yet, but she can stand on a chair next to the oven and stir vegetables in a pan. She’s often very close to hot pans and steaming water, but so far she hasn’t burnt herself. Once I let her cut some vegetables but that almost gave me a heart attack. I think she needs to learn handling knifes as soon as possible, but until I am ready for that, we’re concentrating on kneading stuff. Especially seitan sausages.

spicy vegan currywurst | seitanismymotor.com

All the food we make at home together is vegan food. Although our daughter is not vegan. Compared to me and P, she is growing up very differently. We live in a city, not a village, the food we eat never comes fresh from a farm. The only farms F ever sees are those idealized little fantasy farms in some of her books. I grew up in a village with lots of farmers around me. My grandparents were farmers, too. Many people told me how they saw someone kill and slaughter an animal when they were kids. They even helped to prepare food made from these animals. This often comes up when people argue that killing animals for food is natural. They say that it is important for children to see where their food comes from and I agree. Food production is very often tied to exploitation of both human and non-human animals. We shouldn’t hide that from our children. But what do we do with it? Do we have to agree with it? Do we have to accept it and just shrug our shoulders? Or shouldn’t we teach our child that exploitation is wrong and that we’re not always powerless about it? My daughter knows how “animal based” sausages are made and what the main ingredient in Haribo gummy bears is. But I am also trying to teach her that it doesn’t have to be like this. That we can change things by doing them just a little bit differently. That you can, for example, eat a sausage or a handful of gummy bears without having to accept that it is “normal” to base those foods on dead animals.

And still we are not doing everything right. We are not living a perfect vegan life here. We buy stuff and that stuff is way too often based on exploitation. F is not always able to change things because we make other decisions for her. We agreed to raise F vegetarian and not vegan. We’re taking part in animal exploitation. Right now she’s just accepting things as they are. She’s still so small that she’ll base her decisions on what we tell her. She doesn’t eat meat and isn’t tempted to try it. But she does eat dairy although she knows where it comes from. Her father eats these foods too, so of course it’s okay for her. Although she also knows what I think about cow’s milk or cheese. Some people say this is an easy decision. If you want the best for your family, they should all go vegan. Maybe some would even soay I am not a “real” vegan because we have dairy in our house. I don’t think it is so easy though.

For this family parenting and living together with others in a household is based on compromises.When I met my partner ages ago I was a vegetarian. He was a meat eater. I accepted his way of life, he accepted mine. When I went vegan years later, P did not judge me, he supported me the best way he could. When I got pregnant it suddenly felt difficult to have all these different lifestyles under one roof. We talked about how to raise our child, and what kind of food to cook. P knew I would not be able or willing to cook meat. So we settled on compromises. P went vegetarian. His compromise. My compromise: raising the child vegetarian, not vegan. At least not in the long run. At least not, if it wasn’t really doable. I am not a stay at home mother, I never wanted to be one. We don’t live in a very vegan friendly environment, at least not when it comes to childcare. Childcare is the main reason why F is not a vegan. Excuses, excuses, you say. Maybe. Being vegan all by myself is easy. But having a family, a job, and other things to do or to decide together often makes these things difficult.

We always agreed on sending F to childcare once she would turn one. At that time it was really hard to find something, so there wasn’t much room for being picky. Our applications for a public daycare space was tuned down, so we looked at childminders. Most of them would serve meat almost every day and I felt very queasy about it. I knew I’d have to bring up the food subject. I was sure I would not be able to tolerate having my child eat meat. But I was willing to make some compromises, the compromises we had agree on before.  The person who finally became our childminder served meat only once a week.  She instantly suggested to make vegetarian food for F on that day. That was more than I had hoped for and I felt grateful. The childminder cooked her own food and fed the kids three times a day. I didn’t want to ask about vegan food and I didn’t. I thought I had already been lucky. And that is how our daughter became a vegetarian.

Two years later we applied for a public kindergarten spot. We didn’t get a spot at the daycare we wanted, but we got a spot. I was feeling queasy again. We asked about the food and it tuned out they had a caterer who served meat once per week. The teachers told us to talk to the caterer, maybe they could provide an alternative? They had alternatives for allergy kids and muslims, too. But apparently being vegetarian doesn’t entitle you for an alternative meal. When they refused to provide for our  daughter, the kindergarten staff had no objections to homecooked alternatives. And I was willing to provide them. Once a week, I could do that. F is now the only vegetarian kid in a daycare with about 160 to 180 children. I admit that I would feel overwhelmed if I had to  provide all of her daycare meals. It’s a relief that she gets fed at daycare. The caterer, although stubborn, is a relief, too. I’ve seen other kindergarten menus, with lots of meat. I know we can always do so much better, it’s not perfect, sure. But it’s a start. And F, unlike many of her friends, knows where her food comes from and what’s it made of. I am trying to explain where eggs and milk come from and why I decided not to eat them, too. For now I am trying to make it about personal decisions although I don’t see veganism that way. If we were a family of vegans I probably could (or would) draw clear borders. Make it about them vs. us. But since we’re not I cannot make it that easy. And maybe that is a good thing, because things are never that easy.

Well, you are probably still waiting for that recipe! This is another one F and I made together. It’s currywurst, a popular German fast food and maybe you have heard of it. I’ve made it before, you can find my basic recipe of the blog. It’s a fried sausage (bratwurst) smothered in a sauce that is made from ketchup, spices, and curry powder. For this new version I increased the amount of spices, starting with the sausage itself. And I made the sauce a little bit more interesting by using mango puree. (You can find that at Asian grocery stores.) The sausages can be made spicy or mild, depending on your preferences. For a milder version simply use mild smoked paprika powder instead of the chipotle plus a mild curry powder. If you feel that these don’t have enough spice, use one tablespoon of chipotle and reduce the amount of paprika powder to one teaspoon. Also use hot curry powder and double the amount.

Note: This recipe calls for mushroom powder. I got the idea to use dried mushrooms from Vegan Yack Attack’s awesome currywurst recipe. The idea to pulverise them is courtesy of Celine Steen who uses mushroom powder in her latest cookbooks.

Spicy Curry Sausages with Mango Curry Sauce

Ingredients

For the currywurst
144 g (1 cup) gluten powder (vital wheat gluten)
16 g (4 tablespoons) nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon mushroom powder*
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon hot or mild curry powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
300 ml (1 1/4 cups) water
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
For the mango curry sauce
80 ml (1/3 cup) ketchup
160 ml (2/3 cup) mango puree
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons curry powder, hot or mild
1 teaspoon avage nectar
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
oil for frying

Instructions

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Whisk together water, oil, and tomato paste and add to dry mix.

Knead well until everything is combined.

Have four pieces of parchment paper and for pieces of aluminium foil ready. (About 38 x 21 cm or 15 x 8.3 inch)

Divide the batter into four pieces and roll each piece into a 15 cm ( 6 inch) long log.

Wrap in parchment and twist the edges, then wrap in foil.

Place a steamer basket in a large pot and add water.

Bring to a boil and add sausages.

Reduce the heat so that the water is simmering and steam the sausges for 50 minutes.

Remove and let cool in their packaging.

Let the sausages sit in the fridge over night to improve flavour and texture.

When ready to serve, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan and cut the sausages into small pieces.

Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until crispy.

Serve with sauce and fries.

Notes

*For the mushroom powder simply place one ounce of dried porcini mushrooms in a coffee grinder and pulverise. Store leftovers in a glass jar and use in soups and sauces.

http://www.seitanismymotor.com/2015/04/spicy-currywurst-with-mango-curry-sauce/