seitan is my motor



October 2014



Vegan Wednesday with Sweet Potato Soup and Pumpkin Seed Sausages

fried plantais |

It’s been a while since I participated in the Vegan Wednesday roundup. I never manage to take a picture of all the food I eat in one day, but since that’s not mandatory I thought that this time I’d just write about some recipes that we have recently made.

Some time ago we bought some green plantains. It was an impulse buy and those are bad because I usually have a hard time figuring out what to do with the products I buy this way. This time the plantains had already been lying around for some time, they had changed their colour and were sweet and soft. I finally decided to use them. I knew that two of my cookbooks contained plantain recipes and I decided to go with the easiest one. I found a description for fried plantains in the book Caribbean Vegan by Taymer Mason. That recipe has only two ingredients: plantains and oil. The plantains are simply deep fried in a pan, that’s it. Taymer includes some tips about pairing plantains and explains that the sweet ones go very well with spicy dishes. Since we didn’t plan on anything spicy I just sprinkled some chipotle powder right on top of the bananas after they were done. I am not a great fan of combining sweet and hot stuff but these were good! Sweet plantains are not that different from regular bananas and you could actually use those for frying. Just make sure that they are still a bit firm.

sweet potoat soup |

I do use Pinterest from time to time, mostly to collect food photography I like or recipes I want to try out one day. Last week I saved a recipe for this sweet potato soup. It’s a vegetarian recipe that calls for heavy cream which I substituted with oat cream. The ingredient list was a bit unclear as it had no weight or cup measurements for the vegetables. It called for four large sweet potatoes. I realised only after I tried to make this recipe how much these vegetables can vary in size! I had bought three and they weighed 1.3 kg! I used all of them anyway since I had already peeled them. My soup came out much thicker than the original recipe and its colour was brighter, too.  (The soup has a pastel colour in the original version and the directions mention to thicken the soup with cream. I had to thin it with cream and water.) I probably should have doubled the amount of cream or halved the amount of sweet potatoes to get the look of the soup in the original picture. But it all doesn’t matter much since the soup was very delicious! It’s a simple and easy recipe that can tolerate all kinds of variations: we used a red pepper instead of the carrots and added a teaspoon of Hungarian paprika. The pumpkin seeds on top were fried in oil and I sprinkled the bowls with a generous amount of chipotle.

seitan sausage with pumpkin seeds |

My daughter is a huge fan of snack sausages made of seitan. There’s one made with pumpkin seeds that she asks for every time we shop at the health food store. And I cannot blame her, I really like that one, too! But of course those little sausages are quite expensive. Recently F has discoverd that she likes to help me cooking and sometimes runs into the kitchen declaring “I want to cook something!” Yesterday evening I suggested we could make our own pumpkin sausages and F loved the idea since it would include stirring the ingredients and kneading the dough. I admit that I simply copied the ingredient list for the pumpkin sausages that I had found online. The sausage doesn’t taste exactly like the original version but it was a really great activity we did together. I can already imagine the weird looks she’ll get from people whenever she tells them she makes her own sausage.


Pumpkin Seed Seitan Sausage (makes 4 sausages)

50 g (1/3 cup heaped) toasted pumpkin seeds
140 g (1 cup) vital wheat gluten
18 g (4 tablespoons) nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons melted refined coconut oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon liquid smoke
180 ml (3/4 cup) cold water
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt to taste

Grind the toasted pumpkin seeds and mix with gluten powder, nutritional yeast, onion powder, paprika, and black pepper.
Combine coconut oil, soy sauce, water, liquid smoke, and garlic and mix with dry ingredients. Add salt to taste. ) Knead really well.

Have ready a large pot with a steamer basket and water. Bring the water to a boil while covering the pot with a lid.
Have four sheets of aluminium foil ready (letter size) and divide the dough between the foil pieces. Form the dough into a log and wrap in foil. Place in the pot with boiling water and steam for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool completely then transfer to the fridge and let rest over night. Serve fried or eat as a snack.



October 2014



An Independent Birthday Cake

marble bundt cake |

It’s been a week full of changes. Because of a birthday. Our daughter turned three and this means she had to switch daycare. The last two years we’ve been taking her to a child minder who looked after her and 4 other kids her age for 8 to 9 hours a day. It was a comfortable situation for us and for F. Our child minder is a wonderful person and we knew F had a great time with her. She became a very confident, open, and cheerful person and learned to do many things by herself. I knew she was taken seriously, given the attention she needed, and looked after constantly.

Now she’s a kindergarten kid, which means she has to share 2 kindergarten teachers with about 30 other kids. It’s been a shocking situation, but not for her. F is quite open to change and can deal with almost any situation. It’s really funny how children sometimes are much more grown up than adults (their parents) and can handle new situations better than them. The kindergarten has a 4 week settling down policy for the new kids, which means that we are not supposed to drop them off and leave. We go with your child for the first days to see how it goes and leave when the kid is ready. Which can take up to 4 weeks, if the parents are in the position to spent that much time there, of course. In our case F was way more ready than we. On the third day she was running around in the garden and it looked like she had completely forgotten about me. I asked the teacher if I should just leave for an hour and she said yes. So I said good-bye to F waiting for some protest. Only a little “do you really have to?” or “will you come back?” But nothing.  I left and returned after an hour. At that point F was still in the garden. I couldn’t even see her. I asked the teacher if everything had gone well and of course everything was fine. The teacher sent me away for another 45 minutes. In that time F was taken to lunch. When she finally left the lunch room I was sitting there waiting to take her home for the day. She told me all the things she had done by herself that day: she had helped herself with the food and she had eaten a lot, she had cleaned her table, and she had used the big slide in the garden all by herself. And usually she doesn’t even use a small slide all by herself.

I always thought that it’s important for children to have their own life. I know I am an important person to her, but I don’t want to be the only person being able care for her. I sometimes have to force myself to let go, I don’t always have to be in control. In my opinion this a good thing for every member of this family. When F was younger it meant I had some freedom despite having a very small baby. I didn’t have to be with her 24/7 to feed her, soothe her, or get her to sleep. Her father was as important to her as me and he could do all these things as well as me. I thought this was the way it was supposed to be and still it wasn’t easy to let go. Because from the moment I became pregnant everybody was hammering the idea into me that I, the mother, was responsible for my child and that nobody else cold take care of her as well as me. While this may be a great notion for some women, the way they want it to be, it’s just very scary for others. It’s often a burden, it’s way too much responsibility. It’s unnecessary and I think it’s not even true.

Still one of the hardest parts of parenting for me is learning to let go. I always feel the urge to be in control, to watch over everything and to protect my daughter. Being next to my daughter just watching can be very tough. She has to learn how to eats peanuts without choking, using her balance bike right next to the main street and not getting herself into an accident, or using her scissors without cutting her finger off. I have to learn to have confidence and trust in her. I have to smile while I feel like I am fainting. I have to walk away and realise that she doesn’t need you 24/7. She does well on her own. I have to let her live her own life at least for parts of the day, she has to make her own experiences so she can tell me about them and feel good about herself. And even though I have practiced this from the moment my daughter was born, even though I think it’s exactly the way it should be, the way I can raise a confident and independent child, I still haven’t accomplished it. So it’s not just her learning a lot of new things at kindergarten. It’s me too.

Okay, after this long and waxy post let’s finally get to the cake, which was F’s birthday cake. It’s a simple marble cake with a white and dark chocolate glaze. It’s moist but still firm, which is a really awesome cake feature if you give it to little kids. Well, probably it doesn’t matter what cake recipe you choose as long as you cover it in chocolate.

Please not that this cake may be a bit tricky to remove from the pan. Make sure to grease the bundt pan well and dust it with flour after greasing. After baking let it cool for one hour and then loosen the edges with a small knife.


Marble Bundt Cake

For the cake:
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
6 tablespoons hot water
seeds from one vanilla bean
180 ml (3/4 cup) oil
250 g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
120 g (1/2 cup) plain soy yoghurt
400 g (3 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
180 ml (3/4 cup) plain soy milk
4 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons soy milk

For the glaze:
100 g (3.5 oz) white non-dairy chocolate
50 g (1.7 oz) dark chocolate

Grease a 23-cm (9-inch) bundt pan with coconut oil and dust it with all-purpose flour. Set aside. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Mix flax seeds and hot water and set aside for 10 minutes.
Add oil, sugar, and vanilla to a large bowl and beat well for 1 minute. Add flax and soy yoghurt and beat again until everything is combined.
Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Pour milk on top and beat until the batter is smooth but not longer than a minute.
Pour half of the batter in a second bowl and add cocoa powder and soy milk.
Pour half of the cocoa batter into the bundt pan. Add half of the vanilla batter. Repeat. Run a fork through the batter to create a marbled pattern.
Bake for 60 t0 65 minutes until the cake is done. Stick a toothpick into the centre and if it comes out clean the cake is done.
Let cool for 60 minutes. Use a small knife (preferably a very flexible plastic knife) to loosen the edges, especially around the tube in the centre. Turn the pan around and let the cake slide on a cookie rack to cool completely.

Melt the white and dark chocolate separately.
Drizzle the white chocolate over the bundt cake, then pour the dark chocolate on top. Serve the cake once the chocolate has set completely. (I let my cake sit over night.)

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