This is a response to my mid-term assessment. I am most grateful to my instructor, Katia Hildebrandt, for her time, energy and thought put into evaluating my progress thus far. My audio recording of assessment is below along with my improvement plan.
Note: near the bottom of this post you will find questions addressed to my Dear Reader.
Here is my Improvement Plan for my Learning Project Blog
1. Continue making great posts.
2. Find online vegan cooking communities to join, especially on Twitter.
3. Find various methods of connecting online with others.
Dear Reader: Are you vegan? Anyone you know that is vegan? If so, what online vegan community have you found that was most helpful to yourself or others you know?
Next up: Finding My Vegan Cooking Community
Did you know that the Egyptians made marshmallows by hand with sap from the marshmallow plant, not gelatin? Yes, there really is a marshmallow plant. Here is a recipe for making marshmallows using marshmallow root for those purists among my readers.
Did you, also, know that you can make marshmallows from the juice from a can of chick peas? This was news to me. I asked my girls what aquafaba was? They cried out in unison the juice from chick peas. If you want to know all the amazing things aquafaba can do look here. Wow!! My daughters have been studying veganism for a long time and I appreciate their efforts to learn and then to teach me.
My first attempt at making marshmallows turned out to be quite an unfortunate event. I switched recipes and found a YouTube video that showed a recipe that worked. I do not have a mixer so this was all done using a whisk. It was not as hard as it was imagined.
My daughter leaves for her camping trip tomorrow and I promised her that I would make her vegan marshmallows. It is already 10:00 p.m. when I started my second attempt not knowing if it would be profitable.
Homemade Vegan Marshmallows
1 C sugar
1/2 C white corn syrup
1/2 C water + 1/4 C water
1/2 C aquafaba
2 t agar agar
1/2 t xanthum gum
1/2 lemon or lime juice
cornstarch and icing sugar mix for dusting
In a small saucepan place 1/2 C water and agar agar, stir gently and set aside.
In large heat-proof bowl mix aquafaba, xanthum gum, and lime or lemon juice. Blend with hand mixer or whisk for just a couple of minutes until the mixtures fills out and sticks to the beaters/whisk.
Add 1 T of your sugar and beat/whisk until stiff and shiny. Set aside.
In a second small saucepan put the remainder of the cup of sugar, white corn syrup, and 1/4 C water. Place over high heat until boiling then turn down heat to medium and let cook until the soft ball stage or, if you have a candy thermometer boil until temperature reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit/120 degrees Celcius.
Place agar mixture on high heat and turn down to medium once boiling and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Slowly add the sugar mixture to the aquafaba mixture while continually beating/whisking. Trust me this does work, even though the sugar mixture is still hot. Beat well for 2 or so more minutes.
While continually mixing add the agar mixture - this will be more of a challenge because it is more solidified. Get someone to help spoon it in for you. Keep beating until the bowl is no longer warm to the touch. Mixture will form ribbons when the beaters/whisk are lifted.
Line a small 8" baking sheet with parchment paper (up the sides, too) and dust with cornstarch/icing sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan and smooth the top. Dust the top with cornstarch/icing sugar. Allow to cool overnight.
Turn onto dusted cutting board and slice with dusted knife.
Hover over the pictures to see what step is represented.
For more details watch the video below.
I will be posting videos soon of me making the cheese and the pizza, which is now in the oven. Oh sooo good!!!!
It is getting late and I wanted to find a quick pizza crust to make that had good reviews, too. My Favourite Vegan Pizza seemed to fit the criteria. A tweak by jentastic suggested sprinkling italian seasoning on the dough, a suggestion I followed.
1 1/2 t yeast
1 C water
1 T oil
2 1/2 C white flour (use only 2 C to start)
I mixed these all together. Then kneaded for a minute or so. A rolling pin is real handy to spread the dough to the corners of a rectangular cookie sheet. I covered this with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes while I prepped the vegetables.
For the pizza toppings I used this site for their recipe. Again great reviews. I am getting so hungry!!!
Ingredients for toppings:
!/2 each of yellow, orange, green pepper
1/3 of a red onion
a generous amount of button mushrooms - I love mushrooms and the buttons were huge. :)
some fresh basil
they say to use salt but I try to keep it down to a minimum.
Italian seasoning for sprinkling on the dough
1/2 - 3/4 C pizza sauce
Slice all the vegetables thinly. Set in groups. First the onions were 'roasted' lightly in oil in a frying pan, then the peppers were added, and finally the mushrooms. Saute until all vegetables until lightly roasted.
I used a jar of pizza sauce (smart way to save the leftovers) and spread about 1/2 to 3/4 C on the dough. Spread the roasted vegetables on top evenly and top with cut up fresh basil leaves.
This smells so delicious!!!
Out of the oven was not such a safe place - devoured in minutes. :)
Note: I added some salt to the top to help bring out the flavours. It was a bit bland upon the first tasting. That sentiment did not last long.
I realized after watching the video again that the cheese must sit in a brine for 3 - 4 weeks. I will shorten that to 2 weeks for this class. However, I will make the pizza without the cheese because that is good, too.
So first we will get the cheese finished and to the brine stage. Then I will make the pizza dough, add the toppings and bake.
Now that the cultured cashews have sat on the counter for 24 hours I will make the cheese. If you want to wait until later or another day to make the cheese the culture can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Large bowl of ice and water
Ice cream scoop
5 C cultured cashew milk
3 T kappa carrageenan
3/4 t citric acid
1 1/2 C tapioca starch
1 T salt plus lots of salt to make a brine
1 1/2 refined coconut oil
I am using a large pot because my blender is not big enough to hold the ingredients that I need to add.
First it is necessary to have a large bowl with lots of ice and water with which to place your wrapped cheese balls.
I put 5 cups of cultured cashew milk into a pot and add 3 T kappa carrageenan, 3/4 t citric acid, 1 1/2 C tapioca starch and 1 T salt. I immersion blend this until blended evenly. Now I add 1 1/2 C liquified coconut oil to the mix and mix with a spoon until blended.
I turn on my heat to medium and use a whisk (slowly) to stir this for a minute or so. I then immersion blend again for a short minute. I use the whisk until the mixture starts to pull away from the pan. Then I use a spoon to stir until the mixture gets nice and glossy.
When the cheese mixture gets to this stage I have my ice and water bath ready beside me and my plastic wrap laid out. An ice cream scoop works perfectly for scooping about 3 scoops full of cheese mixture onto the plastic wrap. It is easy to wrap this up. Double wrapping assures a better seal. I have not perfected Jay Astafa's cool technique. Place the wrapped ball in the ice bath as you do them and let sit in the fridge for 4 hours.
After 4 hours the cheese balls are ready to be placed in a brine for 3 to 6 weeks. Then eat and enjoy. The link for the brine mentions that you only need to brine for an hour per pound - this might be a mistake.
Note: I will use mine in 2 weeks from now to let you know how it tastes.
I took the cheese out of it's wrap and we all did a taste test. A general consensus was reached: it smells like cream cheese, has the texture of mozzarella, but tastes a lot like coconut. Oh, but it slices just like mozzarella. I'll bet it cooks like it, too. It was at this point my daughters told me about refined coconut oil where the coconut taste is removed.
The Nourished Life explains the differences between virgin coconut oil and it's refined cousin.
Not only does refined cooking oil not taste like coconut it cooks at higher temperatures, too. I prided myself on the virgin oils I buy. I need to look into getting comfortable for some refined versions, especially coconut oil.
I was going to throw away the whole lot, but the girls stopped me. They said mom we will make grilled cheese sandwiches and stuff. We will use it. Great kids I have!!
A favourite YouTube vegan sensation that I enjoy watching is Daniel Bissonnette. See his take on trying cashew cheese. :)
If global warming meant temperatures rose by one or two degrees, France would become a desert, which would be no bad thing. The Scots would grow wine and make buffalo mozzarella. Michael O'Leary
The first step in making a vegan pizza is making the cheese!!
As I was thinking about gathering the ingredients together for making vegan mozzarella it occurred to me that I need to substantiate this cooking lesson by giving the cheese I make a platform. Ta da - pizza!! Yes, vegan pizza is a real pizza. Unfortunately, my co-worker believes the only pizza worth bearing the honour comes replete with real cheese and real meat. Tut mir leid!!
There are two very different ways to make vegan pizza - one with a base of cashews and the other with a base of tofu. I will use cashews for this lesson. Did you know cashews need to be soaked first? Neither did I. Do you know why? Well, I do know the answer to this now. This very informative website explaining why, not just cashews but, most nuts and seeds are more beneficial to our bodies when soaked. If you want a much faster way to soak your nuts try this site for tips. Here is a very good site for wondering why you should use salt, why the nuts turn slimy and what to do about, and some great comments below.
However, one of the commenters warns against using salt "[t]he only thing I don’t like about soaking almonds or cashews in salt is that when making nut milk, the milk goes bad SO much quicker than when I just soak the nuts in filtered water". I will take note of this since I am making a milk derivative.
After soaking the cashews (1 cup cashews to about 3 cups warm water - no salt) I rinsed them thoroughly - very important.
In a blender add 1 cup of soaked and rinsed cashews, 4 cups of water, 2 T lecithin, 1 T acidophilus powder. The video does not tell us how long to blend so I will guess at 5 minutes. At the end of 5 minutes my pre-cultured cashew milk is surprisingly smooth with no grittiness. I now transfer this to a glass bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and set it aside on my counter for 24 hours.
Aside note here: I thought I would save myself time and energy trying to look for acidophilus powder. So I bought the capsules. Hmmm, 18 opened capsules yielded me the requisite 1 T powder I needed. Perhaps, I ought to purchase the powder and have it on hand.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's continuation...
Moving onto the next part of this...
I started peeling the sweet potatoes I had noticed that they smelled a bit like rotting potatoes. Deceptive they are because there is no rot or oldness to them. I think maybe I better get brand new ones, especially since this is a dessert dish. There are these wonderful scales in the produce section that helped me get one sweet potato that was close to a pound and a quarter. Since I need a pound for the recipe I am taking into account peeling and ends weight.
A word of caution: read through the entire recipe including the instruction because you just might need an ingredient (olive oil) not listed in the list of ingredients.
It seems odd that the recipe asks to roast the sweet potato. It says so, so I will do so.
I needed to let the sweet potatoes roast for an extra 4 minutes to be fork tender. I might need to get a thermometer and check my oven temperature.
Once everything was in the blender it seemed a little thick. Blending for about 3 - 4 minutes helped the pudding to less course and to take on a smoother appearance. I kept blending until the top was smooth and the motion of the churning even out. The mustard colour of the pudding was a bit off-putting and the taste not the greatest. This pudding needs the granola and berries to add a bit of tang and sweetness.
I just noticed that I forgot the agave. Oh my. Thankfully, this is pudding and not a cake or cookies. I can always correct the sweetness of a pudding.
Banana Sweet Potato Chia Mousse
From Daphne Cheng
Makes 8 servings
1 lb sweet potato, cubed
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp to ¼ cup chia seeds to taste
1 tsp vanilla
(optional) agave to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss sweet potato in olive oil and place on baking sheet in oven. Roast for 25 minutes until fork tender. Remove from heat and let cool.
In blender, mix sweet potato, bananas, coconut milk, vanilla and salt and blend until smooth.
Pour into a large mixing bowl. Slowly add chia seeds while whisking, using less if you prefer smoothness, more if you prefer more substance. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To serve, feel free to top with your favorite granola and fresh fruit.
Truthfully, this pudding does not taste very good at all. I have some great granola, though!!
Searching, searching and more searching takes me to The Violet Fog tempting me with beautifully photographed (photoshopped?) images of another pudding made with Chia seeds as well - Chia Seed Pudding. The site claims that this will take me 1 minute to make. Hmmm, ok I have 1 minute before I need to seriously either consider sleep or writing in my Technology Blog. I will post photos of this pudding tomorrow.
Here is the recipe from The Violet Fog:
Here’s what you’ll need (serving size 3):
1.5 cups Coconut Milk or Almond Milk (I like to mix a bit of both)
1 tbs Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup Chia Seeds
Here’s what you do:
Beware the labels - read carefully. Some try to fool you. These cans that had coconut milk in them have a high level of saturated fat. One says 30% the other says 60%. Which can would you be tempted to purchase? On closer inspection the 30% can is one half the serving size of the 60% saturated fat. The Chia Seed Pudding has the serving size at 1/2 cup. This is the same serving size as the 60% saturated fat can lists as it's serving size. Don't be fooled - read the label.
I just got back from shopping for the ingredients for the Banana Sweet Potato Chia Mousse w/Vegan Granola and blackberries. These recipes have been a pleasure to buy for because I already had a lot of the ingredients and there were no surprises, like lactic acid to find.
Speaking of lactic acid, The pharmacist at Hill Avenue Drugs called me back and said that he was unable to access this through his suppliers. He said it was unlikely that I would find a food grade of this. I did receive my kappa carrageenan, though. That was super quick delivery. I am impressed Amazon!!
I am making the granola tonight so that I am not overwhelmed while trying to make the mousse tomorrow. Gathering everything together beforehand makes it much easier to move forward with the recipe. All the dry ingredients are mixed together and then the wet ingredients in a different bowl. Oh my when you add them altogether it is the most pleasant smell. Yummy!! Into the pan - 40 cm x 29 cm - 1/2 the mixture goes, because they suggest only a single layer.
The first half of the cooking is done and it looks good already. Finally, 2 trays are finished.
Vegan Granola Recipe
A healthier vegan granola recipe to help satisfy your sweet tooth. This vegan granola is full of good for you ingredients like oats, pecans, and almonds and is naturally sweetened with maple syrup!
Prep Time Cook Time
5 minutes 40 minutes
Recipe Notes*Don't stir when it's done baking, so a few yummy clusters have a chance to form!
All finished and it looks and tastes AMAZING!!! I sure hope that some can be saved for topping the Banana Sweet Potato Chia Mousse.
Here is a youtube video walking me through the process:
My finished version.
My mind has finally arrived at a Mexican frame of reference. It has been a long day of traveling about to get to this place. No time to sit around. The hammock was lovely. My turn to cook today!!
First order of business is to make something to eat...hmmm, pineapple guacamole w/salsa fresca and vegan sour cream by chef Chloe Coscarelli sounds festive. Can you imagine the mouth-watering flavours, the colourful variety and a hint of the exotic locale of the Mexican desert?
I was very nervous as I started gathering the ingredients I needed to cook:
The Best Damn Vegan Sour Cream, and it is really good!!
Hint: The best avocados are found at either Safeway or Sobey's Victoria Square area.
My daughters were hovering around me asking if they could help me cut tomatoes, juice the lemons and limes, or more often just saying how everything I was doing was wrong. I was squeezing the lemons too hard and the oil from the peel was going to make the juice bitter one of them carped. Another believed I was chopping the tomatoes unevenly. I finally asked them to take my car and go for a drive so that I could do this on my own and they would not be tempted to intervene. It was now peaceful. :)
For the first time, as the girls reminded me, I was following the recipe exactly. Who knew there is a reason why you cut out the seeds and pulp from the tomatoes saves the fresca from being too watery. The cashews were supposed to soak for 24 hours but the girls shared a shortcut with me of boiling a few cups of water, let it cool for 5 minutes. Then add raw cashews and let soak in the hot water for 15 to 30 minutes instead. It is very important, the girls stressed, to rinse the cashews well after any method of soaking. Did you know that they get slimy when soaked? Neither did I.
After I took the photo below I returned to my old ways and added the rest of the pineapples and made more fresca and added that. The girls returned home and tasted the altered version and declared that far too much pineapple was in the guacamole. After removing the pineapple they declared the concoction really good.
I do need to work much harder on either my photography or the presentation of what I am serving.
This is a first try. I hope to improve next time.
This is Chloe Coscarelli's dish that I tried to copy:
Photo credit: http://chefchloe.com/recipes/on-the-side/pineapple-guacamole.html
Photo Credit: Yo
Trying to find lactic acid or kappa carregeenan, which I need for the vegan mozzarella, is impossible in Regina, or even online. I drove to Old Fashion Foods on Victoria Avenue, then to Old Fashion Foods on Quance. No luck. Ok, I said I will try drug stores. I went to 4 different stores and disappointment grew. Even the Hill Avenue compounding pharmacy had none, although I am awaiting a call to see if they are able to order me some. A quick google search of where to find lactic acid in Regina brought up breweries. Wow, what a surprise. Calls to local brewmasters came up stale. I ended up ordering the kappa carrageenan online. It was cost prohibitive to order the lactic acid as the only source is in the United States and the company says delivery can take up to a month. I might, just might, if they have some, ask my daughter's high school if they have some lactic acid in their science lab...
Is kappa carrageenan safe to eat? The Gentle Chef thinks so.
What can I do to substitute the lactic acid I wonder if I cannot get it? Well, I might need to try a citric acid.
For now this recipe for making mozzarella cheese will need to wait until the UPS truck arrives.
What do vegans eat you ask?
I, too, was a little concerned when I first started this journey. My daughters were my biggest cheer team and coaches. Without their encouragement, their passion, their willingness to cook new things and introduce them to me I would have succumbed to failure.
I will miss my milk I whined. What will I drink for my calcium needs? The first order of business for me was to be introduced to several, and I mean lots, of different brands and kinds of milk alternatives. It was curious to me how one almond milk brand could be watery and another nice and creamy. Rice milk I likened to very thin pablum. I love pablum so I liked rice milk. There is even a cashew milk and an oatmeal milk. Gone are the days of soy milk as the only alternate milk.
What of the rest of the diet of a vegan? As you read there are lots of choices for milk substitutes that are healthy. Some contain substantial amounts of calcium. Others not so. However, the choice to eat healthily of all things vegan assures a balanced intake of the vitamins, minerals, proteins, omega 3, and amino acids.
But, what do I eat? Vegans have a food pyramid just like the omnivores and it is chock full of choices.