Last Meal (Vegan MoFo #21)

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I decided to end Vegan MoFo with an entire book-based meal. Main dish, sides, drinks, and dessert are all mentioned in the book, so I cooked it all! I’ll miss the challenge this month has been, but it will also be nice to be able to not worrying about blogging five days a week. I’m already planning my theme (*cough* Disney movies *cough*) for next year.
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The genre of vampire fiction has grown rapidly these last few years. But the first vampire series I remember getting truly invested in (before all the Twilight hubub took over)  was Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan. The first book in the series is A Living Nightmare, in which the main character is a young boy, Darren. Darren’s obsession with the supernatural and outlandish prompts him and his friend, Steve, to visit a traveling freak show that has just rolled into town. Due to their encounters at the show, Darren and Steve end up over their heads and thrown from their mundane everyday lives into being involved in the dangerous vampire world. Now Darren must choose between saving Steve’s life and sacrificing his own human future.

In the same vein as Goosebumps, but with much better writing, A Living Nightmare (and the rest of the Cirque Du Freak books) tells a harrowing story involving vampire mythos, a dash of sarcastic humor, and good old fashioned gore. Great for anyone wanting to read a vampire story that does not involve romance or sparkles.

This would be my last meal with them and I wanted it to be special. When I was looking back on it in later years, I wanted to be able to remember us together, at home, a happy family.

Mom cooked my favorite food: chicken, roast potatoes, corn on the cob. Annie and me had freshly squeezed orange juice to drink. Mom and Dad shared a bottle of wine. We had strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Everybody was in a good mood.” – Cirque Du Freak (A Living Nightmare) (paperback) page 225

I won’t tell why (I hate spoilers), but Darren is having his last meal with his family. Because of this it’s a very important dinner and I wanted to make sure I captured that in my last Vegan MoFo meal. For the chicken I used PETA’s cruelty free Chick-fil-a recipe, the potatoes were just thinly sliced and baked with Lawry’s seasoning salt and pepper, and then some fresh corn on the cob. I served it with barbecue sauce and orange juice.

cirque du freak mealThe best part of this meal though was the dessert. I decided to adapt my lemon-berry cheesecake recipe and make it into strawberry cheesecake. I wish I’d done this recipe earlier in the month when strawberries were more in season, but it still turned out well with the mediocre selection that was available.

strawberry cheezcake

Strawberry Cheesecake

Serves 8

Ingredients:

One graham cracker crust (store-bought or home-made)

1 cup silken tofu

2 cups fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor blend together all the ingredients (except the pie crust) until smooth.

Pour the strawberry mix into the crust, place on a cookie sheet, and bake for 60-75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chill for at least 5 hours and then slice and serve! This is also great garnished with strawberry sauce or vegan whipped cream.

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Brownies Love Brown Mushrooms (Vegan MoFo #20)

dragon-riderDragon Rider by Cornelia Funke is a classic tale full of magic, adventuring friends, and ruthless bad guys. The story starts with Firedrake, a young silver dragon, and his brownie companion, Sorrel.  They live in a valley which is soon to be flooded because of humans. To save their friends and family, Firedrake and Sorrel set out on a mission to find the Rim of Heaven, a land in which silver dragons can live in safety from the outside world.

Ironically, while traveling the save themselves from the humans, they become friends with and are joined by a homeless boy named Ben. The trio faces many trials including a golden dragon (who loves to kill silver dragons), spies, being lost in a foreign country, and more. They must try and follow their destiny to save themselves and their loved ones, all while learning what it really means to be home.

“Oh, yes, the question.” Sorrel rubbed her eyes. “Right, but only if we have something to eat first. This heat makes a person hungry.” She made her way over to her backpack, the sand hot on the furry soles of her paws.

Ben followed, grinning. “It’s the heat now, is it?” he teased her. “We’ve had rain and thunderstorms and all kinds of weather since we started out, and you’re hungry all the time.”

“So what?” Sorrel took the bag of mushrooms out of her backpack, sniffed it appreciatively, and licked her lips. Then she placed two large leaves on the sand and tipped the mushrooms out on them. “Hmm… Which shall I eat first?” – Dragon Rider (hardback) pages 174 and 175

Sorrel the brownie is constantly eating and on the look out for food to forage. Her particular favorite is mushrooms. I made golden mushroom soup and used a “gourmet” mix of baby bella, oyster, and shiitake. There was a bit too much dill in this for me, but I think I would like it better as a mushroom sauce over pasta and Gardein beefless tips. I will be using the leftovers for that.

mushroom soup

Sentry Soup (Vegan MoFo #19)

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Matthias is the main character in Redwall by Brian Jacques. He is a small orphaned church-mouse who lives in the abbey called Redwall. It was founded by Martin the Warrior, a legendary mouse warrior, and has long been a place of peace. There, Matthias lives with other animal creatures like his fellow mice, squirrels, shrews, moles, badgers, and rabbits. Redwall’s happy existence soon ends though when they are attacked by a rat named Cluny the Scourge and his horde of rebellious rats, weasels, and ferrets.

Matthias sees this as his opportunity to work his way up from being an apprentice to a glorified warrior. Cluny’s relentless attacks soon begin to wear down the resolve and resources of Redwall. As the citizens struggle to continue on, Matthias and his friends learn of a venerable prophecy about Martin the Warrior’s ancient sword. Trying to fulfill it, he and his friends begin to search Redwall for clues to the sword’s location. Each solved puzzle, every unearthed scrap of paper, and any whispered bit of prophecy brings them one step closer to finding the weapon that could save Redwall and its’ citizens.

“When Friar Hugo hurried off to join the defenders he left Cornflower in charge of the kitchens. She had busied herself with setting pans of oatmeal and oven bread ready for the next morning’ breakfast. Cornflower then thought of the sentries up on the wall, and she set about making a large pan of vegetable soup. It was a great favorite with the defenders at nighttime, especially when she made it to her own recipe.” – Redwall (paperback) page 300

The food described in Redwall has always sounded delicious. Especially since most of the animals are vegetarian. I chose the warm and veggie-filled Louisiana River Otter Hot Root Soup from Redwall Kitchen.

otter soupThis is probably my new favorite vegetable soup recipe. I don’t know if it’s the Zatarain’s shrimp boil seasoning, the thick roux base, or just the combo of vegetables the makes it taste so freakin’ good. Either way, I’ll definitely be making this again.

 

Abaratian Pastries (Vegan MoFo #18)

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Abarat by Clive Barker is probably the hardest book that I will have to describe. It’s such a fantastical story that it’s a challenge to just give a short review/synopsis of it. But I will try my best!

The remarkable story of Abarat starts in the most unremarkable of places, Chickentown Minnesota. There lives Candy Quackenbush, a troubled teenager living with her mother, two brothers, and abusive father. After leaving school and venturing into a nearby abandoned field, Candy meets John Mischief, an odd creature with seven extra heads attached to his antlers, all of which have their own personality. She soon learns John and his brothers are from an amazing world called Abarat, but they are in peril due to a bounty hunter sent after them by the Lord Carrion, the Lord of Midnight.

Due to her less than desirable life at home, Candy chooses to enter the Abarat to help John and while there she starts her own adventure. Her journey will take her across the many islands of Abarat, each of which stands for an hour of the day, plus the mysterious 25th hour. While there, she encounters many other creatures more bizarre and far more dangerous than John Mischief.  As Candy struggles to find her place, either safe and boring Chickentown or wonderful and perilous Abarat, she finds out more about herself than she ever thought possible.

She went up two or three steps, to a stall with a variety of pastries laid out on it. The display looked very similar to something she might have found in the supermarket in Chickentown, only tastier. Turnovers, croissants, sticks of bread rolled in dried fruit and a variety of small cakes. 

She selected three very quickly: two turnovers and one huge scones; and then, greedily, went back for a croissant. Having got herself more than a meal’s worth, she glanced up and down the street, just to check that the vendor wasn’t making his or her return. It seemed she was free and clear.” – Abarat (paperback) page 180

The aforementioned turnovers are what inspired this whole Vegan MoFo theme. As I was sitting there thinking “What do I love that also involves food?” and “Abarat!” was what popped into my head. So for it I made apple cinnamon turnovers. I’m not positive they have apples in the Abarat, but I’m sure there’s something similar.

Abarat apple turnover

Apple turnovers inside

I used the apple filling recipe from VeganBaking, then just stuffed it into vegan crescent roll dough and sprinkled cinnamon sugar on top. These were quite amazing. I had never shredded apples before and I really like how the texture turned out.

Jace Doesn’t Care About Your Mangoes and Tomatoes (Vegan MoFo #17)

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The dish today is based on City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. But since that’s too far into the Mortal Instruments series to avoid spoilers, I’ll be reviewing the first book, City of Bones, today.

Clary Fray is a teenager living in New York with her single mother. She and her quirky best friend Simon spend their free time drinking coffee and listening to lame poetry readings. Things soon begin to change though when Clary witnesses several teenagers with odd markings on their skin “murder” another boy at a night club. The weirdest part of it was that when they stabbed him, he disappeared. Shaken, she tries to forget what she saw.

But soon one of the boys from the club, Jace, seems to be turning up everywhere she is. Despite his terribly sarcastic attitude, Jace decides to take a chance and reveal to Clary that he and his friends are Shadowhunters. Shadowhunters are an ancient race made by the combining of angels and humans. Their goal in life to fight demons and protect the unaware human society, which is exactly what they did in that night club. There are also the neutral Downworlders, which are a hybrid of demon and human (this includes werewolves, vampires, faeries, and warlocks). After learning all these overwhelming things, Clary is just desperate to get home. But she finds that her apartment has been ransacked and her mother is missing. Who would want to take her mother? Why does she suddenly have the Sight to see the Shadowhunters? And why does the name Magnus Bane keep rattling around in her head? Clary must answer all of these things if there’s any hope of seeing her mother alive.

What’s this?”
“That’s a mango.” Simon stared at Jace. Sometimes it really is like Shadowhunters were from an alien planet. 
“I don’t think I’ve seen one of those that wasn’t already cut up,” Jace mused. “I like mangoes.”
Simon grabbed the mango and tossed it into the cart. “Great. What else do you like?”
Jace pondered for a moment. “Tomato soup,” he said finally.
“Tomato soup? You want tomato soup and a mango for dinner?”
Jace shrugged. “I don’t really care about food.” – City of Fallen Angels (paperback) pages 124 and 125

It is so hard to find a recipe involving tomatoes and mangoes that isn’t for mango salsa. After much searching and by taking some creative liberties I came up with (drum roll please)… The ugliest chip dip ever! Seriously, it doesn’t look good, but it tasted great. I used this recipe for tomato-mango soup and added some salt, pepper, and a deseeded jalapeno. It was too thick for me to enjoy as a soup, but it was just right to dip pita chips into. I’m pretty sure even Jace would care about this food.

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Dragons, Magic, and (most importantly) Potatoes (Vegan MoFo #16)

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Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret  and Tracy Hickman is a classic fantasy tale and the beginning of a hugely popular book series. As usual, the story begins in an inn. A group of friends, who separated years ago to each follow their own journeys, reunite by the fireside. They are a diverse lot and include a dwarf, half-elf, kender, knight, mage, and warrior. They each tell of the rumors of war they heard during their travels and re-confirm that none have heard any tales of the gods (who disappeared many years earlier) returning to aid the mortals.

But before their reunion can have a happy ending, they are pulled into a fight by defending a foreign barbarian couple at the inn. The couple tells the friends of their magical blue staff and the evil that hunts for it. Soon the corrupted city guard is upon them, and the couple and friends must flee for their lives. This unexpected journey soon takes a turn, as they are informed that they must reach the ancient city of Xak Tsaroth within a few days to receive ‘greatest gift’, which may aid them in the upcoming war between good and evil. The way will be long and perilous for the companions, but the fate of the world is in their hands.

“Xak Tsaroth,” Tanis said. “That is my decision.”

“Is that what the mage advises?” Sturm asked sullenly.

“It is,” Tanis answered, “and I believe his advice is sound. If we do not reach Xak Tsaroth within two days, others will and this ‘great gift’ may be lost forever.”

“The greatest gift!” Tasslehoff said, his eyes shining. “Just think, Flint! Jewels beyond price! Or maybe -“

“A keg of ale and Otik’s fried potatoes,” the dwarf muttered. “And a nice warm fire. But no – Xak Tsaroth!” ” – Dragonlance: The Annotated Chronicles (paperback) page 145

I’ve always thought that Otik’s fried potatoes (which were served at the Inn from the beginning of the story) sounded delicious, so it was the first dish I thought of when writing about Dragonlance. I got the recipe off of Dragonlance Nexus, an awesome fan website with multiple DL based recipes. The potatoes were perfectly crispy and spicy on the outside, while being soft and buttery on the inside. Just as delicious as I imagined.

otik's potatoes

Arya’s Vegan Tart (Vegan MoFo #15)

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AGAMEOFTHRONESnewHCEveryone and their mom has been talking about Game of Thrones lately. The HBO show has done a lot to advertise the series and, in my opinion, it’s just as good as the books. But if you want to read the stories, then start off with A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. In the book, each chapter is dedicated to a character and focuses on their actions, thoughts, etc. I like this aspect of it because it seems like everyone gets a fair share of story and no main character is neglected.

The land where the story is set, Westeros, has extremely strange seasons. Summers and winters can last for years. Now the end of a long seven-year summer is upon the land and a hard winter is coming. With the winter dangerous creatures will come creeping things from the north (usually kept out by the giant ice Wall), and nobody knows how many years the cold will last.  The story focuses mostly on the Stark family, who are the Lords of Winterfell, located in the far north. After the King’s Hand dies under mysterious circumstances, the King calls upon Lord Eddard Stark to come to the capital (which is located much further south) and become the new Hand. Despite his wife and children’s reservations, Eddard accepts the invitation and brings his two daughters, Sansa and Arya, with him.

With the cold intensifying and the family divided, plus the rumors of betrayal and war on the horizon, the Starks face more trials than ever. Whether any or all of them will survive remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure. Winter is coming.

A passing septon was looking at her askance.”Here’s the best place to find pigeon,” Arya told him as she brushed herself and picked up her fallen stick sword. “They come for the crumbs.” He hurried away.

She tied the pigeon to her belt and started down the street. A man was pushing a load of tarts by on a two-wheeled cart; the smells sang of blueberries and lemons and apricots. Her stomach made a hollow rumbly noise.

Could I have one?” She heard herself say. “A lemon, or… or any kind.”

The pushcart man looked her up and down. Plainly he did not like what he saw. “Three coppers.”

Arya tapped her wooden sword against the side of her boot. “I’ll trade you a fat pigeon,” she said.

“The Others take your pigeon,” the pushcart man said.”  – Game of Thrones (paperback) pages 716-717

I’ve made this tart previously, but I never posted the veganized recipe. It’s based off of the recipe in The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook. Fresh apricots are really hard to find around here, so I used canned fruit. But feel free to use the fresh version if it’s available to you.

Arya’s Apricot Crumb Tart – Veganized

arya's tart

Ingredients:

For crust:

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup mild oil (I used canola)

For crumble topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup margarine, cubed and chilled

For pie filling:

2 15 oz. cans apricots in juice

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons full-fat canned coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons margarine, melted then cooled

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl mix together the crust flour, salt, and sugar. In a smaller bowl mix oil and applesauce. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly. Press into a greased pie pan.

For the crumble topping mix flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the margarine into the flour mixture until crumbly. 

Drain canned apricots and lightly rinse. Cut into small bite-size pieces. Put them into a bowl and combine with brown sugar, cornstarch, coconut milk, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and margarine. Gently mix until the apricots are all coated.

Pour the apricot mixture into the prepared pie crust and them sprinkle the crumble on top.

Bake for 35-50 minutes or until crust and crumble are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Let cool to room temperature before serving.